How to Establish Credit After Having Judgments

A judgment on your credit report limits your options.

A judgment on your credit report limits your options.

You do not have to wait the seven years minimum it will take for a judgment to be removed from your credit report to begin reestablishing your credit. You can start reestablishing your credit today and as time goes on, you will have access to more credit and better interest rates. If you live in a state with a statute of limitations on judgments that is longer than seven years, the judgment will stay on your credit report until your state's statute of limitation ends.

Know Your Score

Obtain your credit report online. Go to the Annual Credit Report website and request a free annual report from each of the three major credit reporting companies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Select your state in the pull-down menu under “Start Here” on the first page and click the “Request Report” button. Follow on-screen instructions to receive your credit report.

Review your score on each of the three reports. With a judgment on your report, you will not have an optimal score of 720 or higher, but this is the number to use as a goal. You can get credit with a score below 720, but at a score of 720 or higher, almost everyone wants your business. Get your free credit report every year so you can check your progress.

Check with your state government to determine the statute of limitations on judgments in your state so you know when the judgment will be removed from your credit report.

Rebuild Your Credit

Apply for a secured credit card. A secured credit card is a limited-amount credit card guaranteed by you through a bank account. If you want a $500 limit, you will provide $500 to secure the limit. To boost your credit score, use the card. Keep the card balance at no more than 30 percent of the card limit. Pay more than the minimum due each month. Demonstrate your reliability to potential creditors month after month by paying the bill on time. If you do not pay the bill, the credit card company will take the money from the account you used to secure the card.

Ask a co-signer to apply with you for a small loan. A co-signer is a person with good credit who reinforces your credit. Your co-signer is trusting you with his credit. If you default on this loan, it will appear on both your credit reports. To establish credit, pay the loan on time every month. Every time you pay the bill on time, you improve your credit score.

Procure a department store credit card or gas card. The requirements for these cards are lower than they are for the major credit cards or for a loan and there is a possibility that you will be able to get a card without a co-signer. Do not allow your balance to get above 30 percent of the credit limit. Pay more than the minimum due each month.


  • You can pay to review your credit report through independent companies or the major credit reporting companies if you want to see your credit score more frequently than once a year.


  • Lump payments will not help (or hurt) your credit score. Paying your bills on time every month will help your score.

About the Author

Based in New York, Kate Bluest has been writing for various online publications since 2005. She has participated in several writing workshops, including the MIT Writing Workshop. Bluest holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from SUNY Empire State College.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images