If you have a poor credit score you may be wondering how long it will take to improve or if it’s possible to see a change in the short-term. Maybe you’re just aiming for a certain score and want to know what makes a score change and how often it occurs. The truth is a credit score can change daily and may be affected by a number of things, including loan applications and on-time payments. Here’s a look at some of the things you can expect to impact your credit score. The effect may be immediate or may take 30-60 days to show up, depending on how soon it is reported.

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1. On-time payments

Paying your loans and credit cards on timme is a great way to improve your credit score. If your credit history is limited you’ll probably see a noticeable change in your credit score each month from on-time payments–at least at first. Those with a long history of on-time payments won’t see an increase, however, except over years. Still, paying your bills in a timely way is the best way to improve your credit score.

2. Applying for and getting a mortgage

A mortgage can have a huge impact on your credit, in both a good and a bad way. When the amount of the mortgage is first reported to your credit you’ll most likely see a huge drop in your credit score–as much as 80 points! This is because it registers as a huge new debt and raises your debt to credit ratio. For example, I recently pulled my credit report after getting a new mortgage. It registers the mortgage as taking up 95% of my available credit. After the initial drop, however, your credit score will most likely increase to a higher level than before the mortgage.

3. Inquiries

Hard pulls or inquiries on your credit can definitely have a negative impact and will take effect immediately. If your credit is run for a number of reasons–such as a rental application, credit card application, mortgage or car loan–the creditor may do a hard pull, causing a drop in your credit score right away. This is because people that apply for large amounts of loans are usually in financial trouble and the score tries to reflect this possibility in your credit score.

4. Activity on an inactive account

Sudden activity on an inactive credit card has a chance to affect your credit score, usually by lowering it somewhat. The best way to avoid this and improve your credit at the same time is to use all of your credit cards regularly, even just for small purchases. This keeps the accounts active and also reduces the liklihood that they will be closed by the issuer.

5. Increase in credit card balance

Increases in your credit card balance is one of the biggest things that can affect your credit score and will reduce it almost always. This is because your score tries to reflect your ability to pay back debt. A higher amount of debt means more burden and often reflects irresponsible credit use or financial difficulty. -The best way to avoid this is to pay for credit cards in full each month.

6. Missed payments

Everyone knows missing a payment can hurt your credit score. The amount it will hurt it depends on your overall credit rating, the percentage of on-time payments you’ve made, how far behind you are and a number of other things. Your payments are reported as either on-time, 30 days late, 60 days late, or 90 days late. Obviously, they have progressively larger impacts on your credit.

7. New credit & increased limits

New credit can have a negative or positive impact on your credit depending on a number of factors. For example, if you obtain too much new credit at once it will have a negative impact on your credit score. Increased credit limits almost always have a positive impact because they lower your overall debt to credit ratio.

8. Closing an account

Closing a credit card account will usually have a negative impact on your credit if it’s an old account, if it’s in good standing, if it carries a balance or if you don’t have much available credit. Avoid closing credit cards in these situations because they will only hurt your credit.