Worst New Year's resolutions

Aiming for a big credit score boost

Improving your credit score can help you qualify for a mortgage or get a better rate on a car loan. But resolving to achieve a significant increase is a bad idea.

"Just like it takes time to get into the situations that cause your credit score to go down, it takes time to bring it back up," says Rod Griffin, director of public education for the credit reporting agency Experian.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for how long it takes to boost a credit score. It might take a few months for your score to rebound after a late payment but years to recover after a bankruptcy.

Smart solution: Ignore your score.

Focus on strategies to improve your creditworthiness. Your credit utilization rate and payment history account for up to 60% of your credit score, which means paying down debt and making on-time payments will have the most significant impact.

"We always tell people to focus on their credit histories and doing the right things, and the credit score will take care of itself," Griffin says.