Bad Credit: How Long Does it Last? How Long Does it Take to Clear?

Are you worried about how long you might have bad credit? Find out what you need to know and learn the answers to common questions like ‘how long does bad credit last?’ and ‘how long does it take for bad credit to clear?’ in our guide.

Here in the UK, many of us have or will have bad credit at some point in our lives, but what you should remember is that this won’t be the case forever.

The truth is that bad credit can be improved over time and the recorded instances of bad credit on your overall credit report will only stay there for a certain period of time. 

So if you do think you have bad credit and are wondering ‘how long does it take to clear?’ or ‘how long does bad credit last on your report?’, we’ve explained below what you need to know in this helpful guide.


 Bad credit and bad credit scores 

To cover the basics first, bad credit is typically a description or reflection of your failure to make payments on time on any credit agreements, or to not pay them at all. These negative instances are then recorded in your credit history and compiled into your credit report by the UK’s Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs). 

These CRAs also have their own unique rating systems that they use to calculate your credit score using this information. If you have several negative examples in your credit history your credit score will be low and invariably rated ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.  You can also be viewed as having bad credit if you have little to no credit history.

The main types of bad credit that can appear on your report are:

  • Bankruptcy
  • County Court Judgements (CCJs)
  • A default
  • Late payments
  • Debt Relief Orders (DROs)
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs)


 How can having bad credit affect you financially? 

Bad credit can affect you in a number of ways, particularly in regard to your options with different financial products. Here are some examples:

  • You may find it more difficult to borrow money or you might not be able to access as many options or products from lenders with lower interest rates. 
  • Some landlords and letting agents might not offer you a tenancy in their property, as they may feel that your bad credit is a sign you won’t be able to successfully pay them rent.
  • If you’re considering applying to get a mortgage you may also struggle with some providers to get approved or have lower interest rates.
  • There are certain utilities providers who might insist on larger deposits if you have bad credit. Or, their deals and special offers might not be available to you.


 How long does bad credit last on UK credit reports? 

The process of improving bad credit is something that can be gradually achieved over time by taking the right steps to correct the negative information that’s on your credit report, and by demonstrating you’re responsible with your repayments.

However, the specific examples of negative information (as mentioned above) in any accounts you have will typically be on your credit report for six years – with some exceptions such as bankruptcy, which can last up to 15 years.  Any closed and resolved accounts are removed by CRAs after six years of their closure, including all the negative information on them. 

During this six-year period the information that’s shown will be from the six years prior to the date of their closure. This is another reason why it’s important to have closed these on good terms, with examples of you making repayments and successfully managing your finances.

Any accounts that are still open will still be on your credit report and will continue to show any examples of credit – good or bad – on a continuing basis. 


 The different types of bad credit explained 

To help make this a bit clearer for you, we’ve gone into further detail about these different types of bad credit, being more specific about what they are and how long they take to be removed from your credit report.



If you can’t pay back your debts you can apply for bankruptcy – which is a form of insolvency – which will see assets you own like your car or house being sold off to cover what you owe.  You’ll qualify for bankruptcy if the debts you have are more than your existing assets.

While bankruptcy does offer you a new start, it can have a significant negative impact on your credit rating and will typically remain on your credit file for six years – however, some types can remain for up to 15 years.



If you end up missing a payment on a debt, this can go into ‘default’ meaning the lender has closed the account because they believe you’re not going to pay them back. The number of missed payments that can lead to a default can vary from lender to lender, but if it happens it’s recorded on your credit report. 

You typically get a letter first called a ‘default notice’, which gives you a two-week opportunity to pay what you owe and continue as normal. If you fail to pay in this timeframe the account goes into default. 

A default will remain on your credit report for six years – even if you do pay back the debt – and prospective lenders will be able to see this.


 County Court Judgements (CCJs) 

County Court Judgements (CCJs) are court orders from lenders that tell you to pay off a debt you owe them. If you receive one, you have two weeks to respond and agree a repayment term. Failing to get this debt resolved can then see the courts seize some of your assets in repayment.

Unless you pay it off within 30 days of when you receive it, a CCJ stays on your credit file for six years from the day it’s created.


 Late payments 

Late payments on things like bills and credit cards can be reported by providers to the CRAs when they’re 30 days or more in default. These also stay on your credit report for six years. 


 Debt Relief Orders (DROs) 

A Debt Relief Order is an agreement that will freeze some of the debts you have, typically for a year. This then allows you to repay as much as you can in this timeframe, before having anything outstanding at the end of the 12 months cleared. This isn’t something that’s open to everyone though; you have to live in England, Northern Ireland or Wales, have a low income, no property and few assets – it’s also limited to debts of £20,000.

DROs also stay on your credit report for six years from the date they’re agreed. 


 Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) 

An Individual Voluntary Arrangement is something that’s set up by an insolvency practitioner (solicitor or accountant) between you and a creditor in order to pay back your debt over time. You’ll agree to make repayments to this practitioner, who then divides the money between whoever you owe money to in the agreement. 

These repayments can be made over five years and if you have any remaining debt this can be written off. An IVA will be on your credit report for six years from the date it starts, even if you also pay this off before the end of the agreement.


 How to check your credit report 

If you want to see your credit report, you need to contact any of the three main UK CRAs (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and request a copy of your report. You should bear in mind that you may need to sign up for an initial free trial with these agencies to access your report, and may then be required to pay a subscription fee. 


 Start resolving your issues now  

As you can see from the above, the answer to the question ‘how long does bad a credit score last?’ is dependent on the steps you’re taking to help improve your financial circumstances. Although, hopefully now with a more thorough understanding of the different types of bad credit and the negative information that can affect your credit report, you should be in a better position to start resolving any issues.

One option you have as well, to both prove your ability to make repayments and help clear up a bad credit score, is to get a loan – plus, with this you could look to resolve other payment issues. As we’ve already mentioned, if you have bad credit this can make it difficult to obtain them from some lenders, but at Simple Fast Loans we’ll consider you for one of our 18-month personal loans even if you have bad credit. 

So why not contact us today to see how we can help?

*All figures and rates correct at time of writing