Generally speaking, you will find that your credit score will begin to improve about 12 to 18 months after your Chapter 13 is discharged. Remember, of course, that Chapter 13 plans last five years in most cases. Since you are not allowed to incur new debt while you are in your Chapter 13 (unless you get special permission from the judge), you cannot really start to rebuild your credit until after your case is over. You can start to work on improving your credit once your case is over.
Note that references to your Chapter 13 case will remain on your credit for 7 years, as compared to 10 years for a Chapter 7. Thus, 7 years after your filing date, all reference to Chapter 13 must come off your credit reports.
In addition, your successful and consistent funding of your Chapter 13 case can be used as proof of your capacity to pay debts. For example, you can qualify for an FHA loan if you have paid into your Chapter 13 for only one year. By contrast, you will need to wait 2 years to qualify for and FHA loan after your Chapter 7 discharge.
Once your case has been discharged, you can improve your credit score by:
- obtaining a small unsecured loan from a credit bureau, then pay it back in a timely manner
- ask a relative or friend to co-sign with you on a credit card or installment loan
- research and obtain a secured credit card that will eventually turn into an unsecured credit card
- avoid moving or changing jobs in the two to four year period after your bankruptcy is discharged
- the credit reporting agencies value stability of employment and housing
- challenge inaccurate or outdated entries on your credit report