How Long Does Information Stay on My Credit Report?
Your credit report is a compilation of information about your credit history that is used to create your credit score. Most lenders, and many others for that matter, review both your credit score and your credit report to evaluate your credit health and determine whether they want to do business with you. Positive financial habits will help you maintain or improve your credit health, while negative information on your credit report will damage your credit score and may prevent lenders and others from wanting to work with you.
If you’re reviewing your credit report that’s great news – you’re taking one of the first steps to understanding your credit health. When it comes to credit reports, one of the most frequently asked questions is: How long does information stay on my credit report? The answer is that it depends — is it positive or negative?
How long do negative records stay on my credit report?
If you make a mistake or run into financial obstacles that result in negative records on your credit report, those negative records, or “derogatory marks,” can remain there for years and it can take more time to recover depending on the severity.
In general, negative information, which can span late or missed payments, accounts that have been sent to collection agencies or bankruptcies, can remain on your credit reports for approximately seven years.
Your payment history represents 35% of your credit score – one of the most heavily weighted factors on your credit report. Missed payments remain on a credit report for up to seven years from the date of the missed payment. For example, if you had a late payment in June 2011, the late payment would remain on your credit report until June 2018. The record of the late payment will stay on your credit report even if you pay the past-due balance, however, showing you can make payments may make your credit report more appealing to lenders. Depending on the type of account, if you don’t pay off the past-due balance the account could ultimately be charged off by the lender and assigned to a collection agency. Accounts in collections or charged-off accounts have a more severe impact on your score than a late payment, so catching up is important.
Collection or charged-off accounts
In cases where you miss a payment and don’t pay the past-due balance, your lender may charge off your entire account, and the account will be sent to a collection agency. If that happens, the entire past-due balance for that account will show on your credit report for seven years from the date your first missed payment was reported to the credit bureaus. Even though the charged-off account will remain on your credit report for seven years, paying off the past-due balance before the seven-year period is up may reduce the impact of this event on your credit score.
Bankruptcy and public records
Filing for bankruptcy is one of the worst events in terms of negatively impacting your credit score. A bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for seven to ten years depending on the type of bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is typically removed seven years from the filing date and it requires at least a partial repayment of the debts you owe. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is deleted 10 years from the filing date and most debts are paid or discharged.
Other negative accounts
Other negative accounts such as repossessions, foreclosures, and short sales or a deed in lieu of a foreclosure are also important to avoid because they can stay on your report for up to seven years from the date of the first missed payment that led to the negative status.
Hard inquiries are recorded on your credit report when you apply for credit or certain services and a potential lender, creditor or service provider requests a copy of your credit report. These can remain on your credit report for up to two years and won’t take more than five points off your credit score1. Hard inquiries can have a greater impact if you have few open accounts or a short credit history. Many lenders don’t extend credit to applicants with large numbers of inquiries because they perceive the pattern of credit-seeking as a sign of higher risk or financial hardship.
Keep in mind that hard inquiries are different from soft inquiries, which happen when someone accesses your credit report for reasons other than an application for credit (for example, a background check). Soft inquiries can appear on your credit report but will not have an impact on your credit score.
More damaging credit mistakes can affect your credit score longer, but be patient because time helps too. If you’ve made some mistakes that have damaged your credit consider the steps you can take to rebuild your credit and put a realistic action plan in place. Some quick wins to start boosting your score:
- Fix any inaccuracies on your report. If you find that there is something that is reported inaccurately you should take the steps to correct the error by filing a dispute.
- Make on-time payments. This is one of the most important things you can do to improve your credit score so do whatever it takes to pay all of your bills on time. Create a budget and sign up for automatic payments or set calendar reminders.
- Take a break from applying for more credit. Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for 24 months, but the impact on your credit score will usually fade within about six months. Be patient and only apply for credit when you really need it and know you can pay it off.
How long does positive information stay on my credit report?
The good news is that positive information can stay on your credit report indefinitely. Active credit accounts that are paid on time remain on your credit report as long as the account is open and the lender is reporting it. On the flip side, closed accounts that were paid on time stay on your credit report for up to ten years from the date the lender reported it as closed to the credit bureau.
This means that positive credit behavior can continue to pay dividends for years to come. A couple tips to stay on track:
- Paying your bills on time, every time, can lay the foundation for a strong credit profile for years to come.
- Optimize your credit utilization ratio – try to keep it under 30%. If you can, pay more than the monthly minimum to decrease your credit card balances or refinance high interest-rate credit cards with a personal loan that has more beneficial terms.
- Monitor your credit score and overall credit profile. With free credit monitoring and educational tools like Upgrade’s Credit Health there’s no excuse to not know your credit score!
Where do I get my credit report?
Checking your credit report once a year will help you make sure your credit information is reported accurately and that any negative information disappears after the appropriate time period. Based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can get a free copy of your credit report once a year from any of the nationwide credit reporting companies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
Your credit report evolves and changes to reflect how you’re managing your credit, so you should make it a habit to review it at least once a year and consider ways you can improve your credit health. While some negative marks on your report will have a long-lasting effect and will take time to be removed, there are some things you can do to improve your score more quickly, like paying your bills on time, fixing any inaccuracies on your credit report, and holding off on applying for credit. To keep tabs on your credit health and monitor your credit score regularly with credit alerts, sign up for free credit monitoring tools like Upgrade’s Credit Health.