How Long Do Things Stay on Your Credit Report?

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A credit report is a living document. It will grow and strengthen over time. If something bad happens – like a late payment – it will drop a little but recover.

The duration of that recovery period depends on the severity of the damage.

As a rule of thumb, most items remain on your credit report for seven years. One major exception being bankruptcies. They stay on your credit reports for ten years – depending on the type of bankruptcy you file.

Good credit information (i.e. making car payments on time) will stay on indefinitely. But, if you closed that account it falls into an “age off” category. After 10 years, it will fall off your credit report.

As for specific things, like a missed payment or collection account. Let’s take a look into how long stuff stays on your credit report.

How Long do Things Stay on Your Credit Report?

So, how long do things stay on your credit report? Well, there’s bad news and good news! Let’s start with the bad…

Ok, the bad news. If you make a mistake, those derogatory marks will remain there for years.

The good news is, as it gets older it carries less weight.

Credit Report Example:

Let’s look at how bankruptcy affects your credit report and how long it stays on your credit report.

The Bad News. According to a study from FICO, a person with a credit score of 680 should expect their score to fall 150 points. This will occur once the bankruptcy gets posted to their credit report. As I mentioned earlier, most bankruptcies remain on credit reports for up to ten years.

The Good News. So long as that person doesn’t have any new negative information hit their credit file. They can expect to be back to 680 in roughly five years, FICO says.

In other words (and this extends beyond bankruptcy), if you start establishing healthy credit habits. To include making on-time loan payments and keeping low debt levels. Your score won’t bear that burden for the entire time an item is on your credit report.

Pro-tip: Post-bankruptcy, get a secured credit card to re-establish a good payment history.

How Long does the Bad Stuff Stay on My Credit Report?

That varies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) explains the limits on reporting derogatory marks. Though some of these limits vary by state law. Here’s how long negative credit history remains on consumer reports, as mandated by the FCRA.

So many Credit Accounts

There are several credit accounts that will show up on your credit history. Every time you’re shopping at a store and they ask you if you want to apply for a card to receive 10% off. When that card activates, it shows up on your credit history.

Credit accounts include:

  • auto loans
  • student loans
  • mortgage loans
  • bank credit cards
  • retail credit cards
  • gas station credit cards
  • and plenty more!

How Long do Late Payments Stay on Your Credit Report?

Late payments report for seven years from when the delinquency occurred.

Late Payment Example:

Question: I had a 30-day late payment in April 2011 and one 90 days late in September of 2011. When would the seven-year rule start? April or September?

Answer: If you had a single late payment in April of 2011, that late payment will fall off by April of 2018. Once the account is current between April and September of 2011. The second series of late payments will fall off seven years from the first missed payment.

Simplified: You are late on a credit card payment. After that late payment is seven years old, it falls off your credit report.

If the account containing the late payment closes. The entire account falls off after seven years.

Pro-tip: If you miss a payment on accident. Immediately call the company to see if they will not report it to the credit bureaus and/or waive the late fee. Most credit card companies will agree to do so if your payment history was good up until the misstep.

How Long do Charge Offs Stay on Your Credit Report?

A credit line that you opened but never paid off, like a credit card or auto loan. Will remain on your credit report for up to 7 years + 180 days from the date the account went delinquent.

Charge Off Example:

Question: I charged $1,000 on a credit card and haven’t paid the minimum or anything for 6 months. What happens next?

Answer: If you charged $1,000 on a credit card and haven’t paid the minimum or anything for 6 months. Creditors will first try to send letters to you to remind you of your past-due bill. If that fails, they will move it to a collections process.

The delinquency will be re-categorized to “charged off.” This happens after your payment is delinquent for 180 days. Installment loans (mortgage) can charge off after 120 days of delinquency.

Simplified: Having a charged off debt means you have not been paying for 180 days. Your debt is re-categorized as “charged off” on the company’s profit-and-loss statements. That means your creditor has given up hope that you will pay them back and sold your debt to a collections agency.

Pro-tip: You will have to contact the three credit bureaus if they are still reporting it for removal.

How Long does a Foreclosure Stay on Your Credit Report?

A foreclosure will remain on your credit reports for seven years from the filed foreclosure date.

How long do Inquiries Stay on your Credit Report?

There are two kinds of inquiries: hard and soft.

Hard inquiries are the only ones that hurt your credit scores.

A soft inquiry will show up on your credit reports but is not factored into your credit scores.

Examples of soft inquiries include:

  • requesting your own credit reports or credit scores
  • promotional inquiries from companies that may want to send you a credit offer
  • inquiry from an insurance company

Hard inquiries occur when you apply for credit. This includes your potential lender evaluating your application.

A hard inquiry will ding your credit score, but it won’t last too long. Hard inquiries only remain on your credit report for two years. They only affect your credit score and credit history for 12 months.

Pro-tip: Inquiries for the same type of loan (like a mortgage or car loan) will group for 14-45 days. This allows borrowers to comparison-shop among lenders. That way you won’t take a hit each time you apply for a loan through a different lender. 

Collection Accounts

If you’re late on payments and start receiving calls from someone other than your lender. It is safe to assume the loan was written off by the lender and turned over to a third-party debt collection agency.

The collection agency now has the job of collecting the debt. Collections show up as negative items on your credit history.

How Long do Collections Accounts Stay on Your Credit Report?

A collection account remains on your credit report for seven years plus 180 days from the date of the delinquency.

Collections Accounts Example:

Let’s say you were inconsistent with your phone bill. You missed it in January but caught up in February, only to miss it again in March and April.

At that point, your phone company sends the bill to a debt collector. That will remain on your credit report for seven years plus 180 days from the date your bill was due in March.

Even if you paid the collection account, it can still stay on your report for that 7-year (plus 180 days) period. This is something that people don’t like, but need to understand.

Some credit scoring models do not factor in collection accounts once they’re paid, but many do. Something to note, paid collections generally weigh your score down less than unpaid collections.

Pro-tip: Sometimes collection agencies are willing to remove paid accounts, but you do have to negotiate this. This is “pay for delete,” or “payment for deletion.” If you do manage to negotiate this with the collection agency. Make sure you receive it in writing that the account will be removed. You can use it as proof when disputing the account with the credit bureaus.


Things to remember!

The time for debt collections starts from the delinquency date.

With collections resulting from a charge off. If you were late in February 2013 and the account “charged off” in July 2013. The account should fall off after July 2020

The time limit for debt collections, starts with your delinquency with the original creditor. Not when the debt collector started collecting on the debt. Some versions of your credit report may include phrasing that indicates when the collection will fall off your credit report, e.g. “…scheduled to report until 06/2019.”

If you’re wondering when a specific collection account will fall off your credit report, pull a copy of your report. You can get a FREE one from if you haven’t already this year.

Review the history and add seven years to that date. That’s around the time to expect the collection account to drop off.

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