How to Reach a 720 Credit Score in 6 Months

There's no guarantee you will get to 720 in 6 months, but you can take the steps needed to there. For some, it may happen sooner than they expect. Read on to learn how to approach this credit milestone.

How to Get a 720 Credit Score in 6 Months

Written by Michelle L. Black
Reviewed by Lauren Bringle, AFC®

Anytime you earn a credit score increase, it’s a good thing. But at certain credit score levels, you may be able to unlock some especially valuable benefits.

A 720 credit score is an example of a score threshold you might want to work toward earning. It’s not a perfect score, but it is above average. (The average FICO® Score was 711 in October 2020[1]). A score of 720 might give you better approval odds and could potentially unlock lower interest rates and better loan terms.

If you’re working toward a 720 credit score, you may wonder how long it will take to reach your goal. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that question. Everyone’s credit improvement timeline is different. Reaching 720 could take weeks, months, or even years, depending on your credit score starting point. Yet even if the journey to 720 takes you longer to complete, it’s still worth the effort.

Is a 720 Credit Score a Good Score?

FICO and VantageScore are the two major credit score brands you’ll come across when you apply for financing in the United States. Most lenders (90%) use FICO® Scores[2] along with the 5 C’s of credit. Yet VantageScore sells billions of credit scores[3] to lenders and other companies each year as well.

Most FICO Scores and VantageScore credit scores range from 300-850. Within this overall credit score range, there are five score categories.

FICO Scores & Ratings

  • Exceptional: 800-500
  • Very Good: 740-799
  • Good: 670-739
  • Fair: 580-669
  • Very Poor: 300-579

VantageScore Scores & Ratings

  • Excellent: 781-850____
  • Good: 661-780
  • Fair: 601-660
  • Poor 500-600
  • Very Poor: 300-499

As you can see above, a FICO Score of 720 is considered to be a good credit score. The same is true of a 720 VantageScore.

How Will Having a 720 Credit Score Help Me?

Higher credit scores and better borrowing terms tend to go hand in hand. However, a lower credit score will not only increase your interest rates but also limit your loan options. Below are three scenarios where earning a 720 credit score could pay off in a big way.

With a Mortgage?

When you apply for a home loan, the mortgage lender checks multiple FICO Scores based on your Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian credit reports. Your ability to qualify for a mortgage and your interest rate often come down to the score that falls in the middle of the three numbers—aka your “middle score.” This holds true whether you apply for a VA loan, FHA loan, conventional loan, or something else.

Let’s assume your current middle FICO Credit Score is 620. At this score level, some mortgage lenders might not be willing to work with you due to your risk as a borrower. If you find a lender that will approve your mortgage application, you’ll probably face a higher interest rate and less favorable borrowing terms.

Here’s a hypothetical look at the type of mortgage you might qualify for with a 620 FICO Credit Score.

30-Year Fixed Mortgage for $350,000

  • FICO Score: 620
  • APR: 4.159%
  • Monthly Payment: $1,703
  • Total Interest Fees: $263,150

*Hypothetical loan details based on data from the FICO Loan Savings Calculator*[[4]](#article-sources).

Now, imagine you work hard and improve your FICO Score to 720. (We’ll cover some pointers on how to get a 720 credit score in six months below.)

With a 720 middle score, your mortgage approval odds should be better. You may also qualify for more attractive loan terms and a lower interest rate.

However, you may need a very good or excellent credit score — often 760 or higher—to receive the best rates a mortgage lender offers.

Here’s a hypothetical example of the type of home loan you might qualify for with a 720 FICO Score.

30-Year Fixed Mortgage for $350,000

  • FICO Score: 720
  • APR: 2.792%
  • Monthly Payment: $1,437
  • Total Interest Fees: $167,191

Hypothetical loan details based on data from the FICO Loan Savings Calculator[4].

The difference between the two interest rates above is just 1.367%. That number may seem small. But when you do the math, it becomes clear that a higher credit score could have a meaningful impact on the cost of the loan.

In the example above a 720 credit score could save you:

  • $266 per month.
  • $95,959 in overall interest fees.

That last figure above isn’t a typo. When we crunched the hypothetical numbers, a 100-point credit score increase (620 to 720) saved the borrower nearly $100,000 in mortgage interest.

With a Car Loan?

A 720 credit score could certainly come in handy when you apply for a car loan as well. Unlike mortgage loans, an auto lender will usually just check one of your credit reports and scores. Yet you’ll still want to make sure all three of your credit reports and scores are in good standing. You may not know in advance which report and score the lender will check to evaluate your auto loan application.

Building on the example we used above, let’s assume you’re starting with a 620 FICO Score. Auto loans are typically easier to qualify for than mortgages since you’re applying to borrow less money. So, it shouldn’t be that difficult to qualify for some type of car loan with a 620 credit score. The interest rate the lender offers you at this level, however, may be on the high side.

Here’s an example of a car loan you might get with a 620 credit score.

60-Month New Auto Loan $35,000

  • FICO Score: 620
  • APR: 10.254%
  • Monthly Payment: $748
  • Total Interest Fees: $9,882

Hypothetical loan details based on data from the FICO Loan Savings Calculator.

Raising your credit score to 720 should improve your borrowing circumstances when you’re seeking a new auto loan. At this level, you should have no problems qualifying for financing, based on your credit score. And depending on the auto lender, you might even be in a position to secure the best rates and terms available.

Want to see the numbers for yourself? The example below illustrates the type of auto loan you might qualify for with a 720 credit score.

60-Month New Auto Loan $35,000

  • FICO Score: 720
  • APR: 3.844%
  • Monthly Payment: $642
  • Total Interest Fees: $3,527

Hypothetical loan details based on data from the FICO Loan Savings Calculator[4].

The difference between the interest rate an auto lender offers you at a 620 credit score versus a 720 credit score might be considerable. In the example above, you could save 6.41% by increasing your credit score by 100 points.

In the example above, a 720 credit score could save you:

  • $106 per month.
  • $6,355 in total interest costs.

Renting an Apartment

Applying for loans or credit cards aren’t the only types of situations where a 720 credit score can benefit you. A landlord may also want to review your credit details when you apply to lease a new apartment.

Every landlord and apartment management company sets its own credit report and score criteria for new applicants. And some landlords might not review your credit information at all. There’s no universal minimum credit score requirement for leasing apartments. However, a recent tenant survey[5] revealed some interesting facts:

  • 638 was the average credit score someone needed to rent an apartment.
  • Renters of high-end apartments had an average credit score of 669.
  • Tenants of lower-end apartments had an average credit score of 597.

As you can see, you might be able to rent an apartment with a low credit score. But good credit should put you in a better position to qualify. A 720 credit score could also unlock other benefits for renters, too, like lower security deposits or no cosigner requirements.

How Much Will I Be Able to Increase My Credit Score In 6 Months?

Credit scoring models calculate your credit score by examining the specific details on your credit report. So, if you want to change your score, you need to change the information on your credit report.

Within your credit report, there are five categories of information that shape your FICO Score:

  • Payment History (35% of your FICO Score)
  • Amounts Owed (30% of your FICO Score)
  • Length of Credit History (15% of your FICO Score)
  • New Credit (10% of your FICO Score)
  • Types of Credit (10% of your FICO Score)

It’s not possible to make a blanket prediction about how much you can increase your credit score in a six-month time frame. One person might be capable of earning a 25-point credit score increase. The next person might be able to earn far more or far fewer points. That being said, many people can see meaningful credit score jumps in six months or less.

If you’d like to see your own credit score’s potential for improvement, FICO provides an online tool you might find useful. The Free Credit Score Estimator[6] asks you ten simple questions about your credit report and estimates your FICO® Score based on your answers. You can then take the quiz a second time and give different answers to gauge your score’s potential trajectory as the information on your credit report changes.

What Do I Need to Do to Improve My Credit Score in 6 Months?

Wondering how to get a 720 credit score in six months? Your specific credit improvement plan and timeline depend on your starting point. Yet, there are some basic credit improvement principles that might help you.

1. Review Your Credit Reports and Scores.

Start your credit improvement plan by figuring out where your credit stands now. In other words, get your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus. It may also be a good idea to check your credit scores at the same time. This will also help you determine what debt to pay off first to raise your credit score.

Checking your credit reports and scores can help you in two ways.

  • Uncover potential issues that are holding your credit scores back. Make a list of negative items that may need your attention, such as past-due balances, collection accounts, etc. If your credit reports include scores, they may include reason codes that detail the top four or five reasons why your numbers aren’t higher. You can use this information to build your credit improvement plan.
  • Look for credit reporting errors that you need to address. Incorrect information on your credit report could hold your score back—especially if that information is derogatory. However, you have the right to try to fix credit reporting errors by sending a dispute letter to each credit reporting agency involved in the mistake.

2. Avoid Late Payments.

Payment history matters most when it comes to your credit score. It’s worth a sizable 35% of your FICO Score. So, whether your goal is to raise your credit score or maintain a good credit rating, it’s critical to avoid late payments.

When you fall 30 days behind on a credit obligation (or worse), your creditor may report the delinquency to the credit reporting agency or credit bureau. Late payments on an installment loan, personal loan, or other credit-related purchases can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, and could impact your credit score for as long as they remain.

However, old delinquencies on your credit report should affect your score less as time passes. One way for you to avoid this is to make scheduled automatic payments to your loans. This can also put you on track to raise your credit score by 100 points.

3. Lower Your Credit Utilization Rate.

A significant portion of your credit score is based on a factor called your credit utilization rate. Credit utilization is the link between your credit card limits and balances. If you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit and a $750 credit card balance on your credit report, your credit utilization ratio is 75%.

Reducing your credit utilization rate can be good for your credit score. The best way to accomplish this reduction is to pay down your credit card balances. This approach can save you money on interest fees as an added bonus.

If you need time to pay off your credit card debt, you may also be able to lower your utilization rate by requesting a credit limit increase. Still, your ultimate goal should be to eliminate your credit card debt altogether and only use cards for purchases you can afford to pay in full each month.

4. Add Positive Accounts to Your Credit Report.

Sometimes adding a fresh account (aka tradeline) to your credit report may benefit your credit score. Positive accounts won’t erase negative credit history from your reports, but they might help counteract some of the damage those old accounts are causing.

If you’re considering applying for new financing, there are a few rules of thumb you need to know.

  • Make sure the creditor will report the account to all three credit bureau agencies.
  • Use your new accounts responsibly with on-time payments and low utilization rates on credit cards.
  • Aim for a good credit mix of revolving and installment accounts on your credit reports.

It’s also worth noting that with damaged credit or no credit, you’ll want to apply for accounts with less strict approval criteria. A premium rewards card might be out of reach at the moment. But a card issuer or credit card company might be comfortable approving you for a secured credit builder card. Likewise, a credit builder loan may be a good fit when you’re trying to rebuild or establish your credit.

Article Sources

  1. FICO. “Average U.S. FICO Score at 711, But Uncertainty Abounds”. https://www.fico.com/blogs/average-us-fico-score-711-uncertainty-abounds. Accessed July 19, 2021

  2. FICO. “FICO® Scores Are Used by 90% of Top Lenders”. https://www.ficoscore.com/about. Accessed July 19, 2021

  3. VantageScore. “Market Adoption”. https://vantagescore.com/lenders/why-vantagescore/market-adoption-who-uses-vs. Accessed July 19, 2021

  4. myFICO. “Loan Savings Calculator”. https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/calculators/loan-savings-calculator/. Accessed July 19, 2021

  5. RentCafe Blog. “The Average Credit Score to Rent an Apartment is on the Rise”.
    https://www.rentcafe.com/blog/rental-market/credit-score-to-rent-an-apartment/. Accessed July 19, 2021

  6. myFICO. “Free Credit Score Estimator”. https://www.myfico.com/free-credit-score-range-estimator/. July 19, 2021

About the author

Michelle L. Black is a leading credit expert with over 17 years of experience in the credit industry. She’s an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, identity theft, budgeting and debt eradication. See Michelle on Linkedin and Twitter.

About the reviewer

Lauren Bringle is an Accredited Financial Counselor® with Self Financial – a financial technology company with a mission to help people build credit and savings. See Lauren on Linkedin and Twitter.

Editorial Policy

Our goal at Self is to provide readers with current and unbiased information on credit, financial health, and related topics. This content is based on research and other related articles from trusted sources. All content at Self is written by experienced contributors in the finance industry and reviewed by an accredited person(s).

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Written on July 27, 2021
Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings. Comments? Questions? Send us a note at hello@self.inc.

Disclaimer: Self is not providing financial advice. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks and is presented for general education and informational purposes only. Please consult with a qualified professional for financial advice.

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