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How Long Do Items Stay on a Credit Report?

Your credit score is calculated based on the information held on your credit file. Different types of information can be held on your file for a varying amount of time, so it pays to know how long each type of information can stay on your file.

In some cases, the information can have a positive influence on your score but in others, it can be negative. Let’s take a look below.

Credit accounts and relationships – As long as the account or relationship is open and then 2 years after

Information about credit accounts and relationships will remain on your credit file whilst the account or loan is open and then for up to 2 years after they have been closed.

Negative Accounts

IT’S A TERRIBLE FEELING to see a negative item on your credit report. It can drag down your credit score as well as your self-esteem.

But take solace in knowing that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. Whether you have a collection account or a bankruptcy, it eventually falls off your report.

So, let’s take a look at how long some of the more common mistakes stay on your credit report.

Hard Inquiries

This isn’t really a mistake in the way a collection account is, but I’m including it here because it does have a negative impact on your score. When you apply for credit, the lender reviews your credit report in detail, and that’s called a hard inquiry.

A hard inquiry takes about two to five points off your score. That’s for each inquiry. But most credit scores give you a break if you’re shopping for a mortgage and there are several inquiries within a short period.

What to do: Don’t open any credit cards or apply for any services that would require a credit check. These can accumulate quickly.

Credit scores are set up to recognize that you’re rate shopping and to count it as one inquiry. But if you apply for, say, five credit cards over a month, that’s five different hard inquiries. You’re looking at 10 to 25 points off your score.

Inquiries stay on your report for up to two years. But after the first year, there’s less impact on your score.

Missed payments

If you are at least 30 days late, expect a mark on your credit record. Missed payments typically stay on your credit reports for seven years. The later the payment, the greater the damage to your credit scores.

What to do: Pay up as soon as you can. If you’ve never or rarely been late before, you might be able to get the creditor to drop the late fee. Call the customer service number, explain your oversight and ask if the fee can be removed.

The negative effect on your credit scores will fade over time. Stay on top of all your payments so positive information in your credit reports dilutes the effect of this misstep.

Collections

A creditor that’s not seeing payment may send or sell the debt to a debt collector. Having an account in collections is a serious negative that stays on your credit reports for seven years.

What to do: Make a plan to pay off the collection once you verify that the collection agency actually owns the debt. That won’t get the mark off your credit reports, but it’ll remove the risk you could be sued.

Like other negative marks, the damage fades over time if you don’t add other mistakes on top of it. Paid-off collections factor into FICO 8 credit scores, the ones most widely used in lending decisions. But some newer credit scoring models, such as VantageScore 3.0 and the FICO 9, ignore paid collections.

Account charge-off

If you don’t pay your debt as agreed, your lender may eventually give up and charge the account off. The charge-off will appear on your credit reports for seven years.

What to do: Try to pay off the debt or negotiate a settlement. While this won’t get the charge-off removed from your credit reports, it’ll remove the risk that you’ll be sued over the debt.

Positive Accounts

An account that was paid as agreed will likely be removed from your credit reports ten years after the date of the last activity.

When will those paid mortgages, student loans, and car notes reflect in your credit report? Give it two months.

Creditors aren’t required to submit information by a certain time each month, and ExperianTransUnion, and Equifax say that it typically takes 30-45 days for a payoff to be reflected. When your credit report is finally updated, it’ll show the date you made that enthusiastic last payment.

It’s a little different for revolving accounts. If you close a credit card immediately after paying it off, you will see that reflected on your credit report. If you pay the balance but keep the card open (a much better choice for your credit history), you’ll just see that the account is current with zero balance

Public Records

A public record that you will find on your credit report is bankruptcy. You may also find tax liens and other judgments as well, and they will show up as negative items on your credit report. Depending on the chapter of bankruptcy filed, the timeline for it getting removed from your credit history may vary.

Improve Your Credit Habits

In general, the best way to improve your credit is to work on your financial habits. There aren’t many reliable “fixes” for credit mistakes, so it’s best not to make them at all. Even if the outlook isn’t bright, you can take control by making a list of your negative items, and then deciding on the best course of action, one item at a time. It may not be the fastest method, but it’s effective.