How an Installment Loan Can Help Credit Score

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Are you trying to improve your credit score? An installment loan can be a great way to achieve this. Lenders use payment history and credit mix as two parts of their assessment for individuals applying for an installment loan.

Ready to dive into how installment loans can boost your credit score? We’ll also unpack those times when it might not do the trick and share some other savvy ways to give your FICO score a lift. Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Taking out an installment loan can help build a positive payment history and diversify the types of credit used, which may lead to increased chances of getting approved for future loans or lines of credit with better terms.
  • Too much debt associated with installment loans and missed payments can cause credit scores to drop significantly.
  • To optimize score building benefits, limit hard inquires, stay within personal budget limits, pay bills on time consistently, and closely monitor progress for accuracy.
  • Soft inquiries are safe to use as often as needed.

What is an Installment Loan?

An installment loan is a type of loan that borrowers typically use to cover larger expenses such as home remodeling or repairs, medical bills, and more. Unlike payday loans where the full balance must be paid back in one lump sum at the end of the term, an installment loan’s payments are broken down into fixed amounts over a set period of time.

Typically, these payments will remain consistent throughout the life cycle of an installment loan allowing customers to budget for their loan repayment without unexpected surprises on their next statement.

Installment loans can also vary in terms when it comes to length and total amount borrowed; they may range anywhere from two months up to several years depending on lender policies.

In addition, many lenders allow borrowers to choose different payment structures so that they can find something fitting with their financial situation.

How Installment Loans Can Help Improve Your Credit Score

An installment loan can help improve your credit score by demonstrating repayment history and diversifying the types of credit you are using.

Establishes a positive payment history

One of the most effective ways to improve your credit score is to establish a positive payment history. This simply means displaying on-time payments over an extended duration. Installment loans are one avenue for improving this factor, as they provide consistent repayment periods and easy tracking of activity within credit reports.

When individuals make payments in full and on time each month, it shows creditors that they can responsibly manage their finances, resulting in a better credit score rating over time.

This kind of impressive payment behavior usually leads to decreased interest rates across other accounts, which ultimately saves you money if you decide to take out additional lines of credit down the road.

Diversifies your credit mix

Having a diversified credit mix can significantly impact your credit score positively. Adding installment loans to your list of credit accounts may help improve your ability to manage different forms of debt and demonstrate a responsible payment history.

This is an important factor that many lenders look into when considering loan applications. Credit diversity illustrates the borrower’s adeptness at managing various types of credit, such as revolving credit and installment loans, which can work in their favor when pursuing bigger financial objectives down the line, such as buying a home or car.

Therefore, integrating an installment loan in your checklist of credits will only benefit you by eventually increasing the overall trustworthiness of your profile with lenders going forward.

Decreases overall credit utilization

Installment loans can help improve your credit score by decreasing overall credit utilization. When you transfer existing debts such as credit card balances to an installment loan, it reduces the amount of available credit and lowers your total debt-to-credit ratio.

This lowers your overall utilization rate, which can have a positive effect on your score. By having an installment loan that is being managed responsibly, it shows lenders that you are able to manage debt and meet payments over extended periods of time; this increases your chances of getting approved for future lines of credit with better terms and may lead to a higher overall score in the long term.

Ways Installment Loans Can Potentially Hurt Your Credit Score

Not managing your loan payments and debts well can actually lead to a decrease in credit score, so it is important to understand the implications before getting an installment loan.

Missed loan payments

Missed loan payments can have a dramatic and long-lasting impact on your credit score. Even one missed loan payment, including an installment loan, can cause your credit score to plummet drastically if it’s reported to the credit bureaus.

Late payments that appear on consumers’ credit reports represent major red flags that could hurt their ability to get approved for new loans or financing. As such, missing even one loan payment can have serious implications on credit scores by dropping them by as much as 180 points or more depending on the situation.

Additionally, overdue debts may be subject to late penalty fees in addition to interest charges which will further lower the consumer’s credit rating. Therefore, avoiding delinquencies is essential for keeping good financial standing and maintaining a healthy credit record over time.

Accumulating too much debt

High amounts of debt can raise your overall credit utilization ratio, which is the amount you owe versus the total limit available across all your active accounts. Having a high credit utilization ratio could lead to creditors viewing you as being too reliant on and unable to handle large amounts of debt, resulting in difficulty getting approved for new lines of credit as well as an overall decrease in your credit rating.

Moreover, managing multiple loan payments with sky-high balances can be exceedingly strenuous financially, making it even more difficult to make those payments timely: any missed or late payment will add negative marks onto your report that could further deteriorate scores in the long run.

Additional Strategies to Boost Your Credit Score

There are other tried and true methods to improving your credit score beyond taking out an installment loan, so make sure to explore all of the options available.

Monitor your credit progress

Keeping an eye on your credit progress isn’t just some boring financial chore—it’s your secret weapon for boosting your credit score. When you make sure your credit report is mistake-free and that all your timely payments are showing up as they should, you’re not just polishing your creditworthiness. You’re also getting a clearer picture of your financial health, which can steer you toward better spending habits.

And let’s not forget, a solid payment history is like a glowing recommendation letter for lenders. It makes it easier for them to say “yes” to lending you money and even cut you a deal on interest rates. So, keeping tabs on your credit can help you sidestep any actions that might ding your score, empowering you to make smarter financial choices and keep trekking toward financial wellness.

Minimize credit inquiries

Credit inquiries, both hard and soft, can have an important impact on your credit score. As a result, minimizing credit inquiries is essential for maintaining a good credit score. Applying for multiple loans within a short period of time can result in several hard credit inquiries which can stay on your credit report up to two years and may cause financial lenders to perceive you as high-risk borrower.

It is best to keep hard inquiries to a minimum by focusing on one loan at a time even if they are small since this still comes with the risk of having too many inquiries.

Pay bills on time

Paying bills on time is essential for improving your credit score as it establishes a positive payment history and helps to build a strong credit profile. On-time payments are reported to the major credit bureaus and stay with your report for seven years, so consistently paying your bills on time will improve your rating and make it easier to secure future loans or lines of credit.

Additionally, paying bills on time can eliminate costly late fees and help you maintain a good credit utilization ratio, which can also improve your score drastically. ​

Should You Get an Installment Loan Solely to Build Credit?

Getting an installment loan can boost your credit score, but it’s not always the best move. If you’re not careful with your spending and borrowing, you could end up with too much debt. Missing payments will then hurt your credit score instead of helping it. So, always make sure you can pay back what you owe on time.

Additionally, multiple missed payments on past due accounts can have major implications for one’s entire payment history thus causing further damage to its overall repair progress.

If you’re thinking about getting an installment loan to boost your credit score, make sure you work with a lender you can trust. Look for one with good terms like low interest rates and flexible repayment plans. That way, you can improve your credit without any nasty surprises.


Getting an installment loan can actually help build your credit, even if your score goes down a little at first. When the lender checks your credit, your score may drop temporarily. But paying off the loan on time shows you’re reliable, which helps your credit in the long run. Making those monthly payments responsibly proves to lenders you can handle another bill. It boosts your chances of getting approved if you need loans down the road. Plus, managing that installment account wisely will give your credit score a nice boost over time.


How can an installment loan help my credit score?

An installment loan can totally help your score by showing lenders you can handle different types of credit. Having a mix of accounts—like a mortgage, auto loan, and credit cards—makes you look reliable.

Is it advisable to take out an installment loan if I don’t need it?

Only get an installment loan if you really need one, not just for your credit. Don’t take on debt just to look good to lenders. Stick to your budget and pay off what you owe before taking on something new.

What kind of installments should I apply for?

If an installment loan makes sense for you, look at options like a home equity loan, auto financing, student loan, or personal line of credit. Shop around to compare interest rates and terms from different lenders. Find an affordable monthly payment that fits your situation.

Mark Jorel Snow

Mark Jorel Snow brings over 15 years of financial experience to help everyday people master their money. Mark is passionate about making complex financial topics simple. His down-to-earth explanations empower readers to take control of their finances with confidence. Mark specializes in creating tailored money strategies and providing unmatched personal support. When he's not coaching clients or penning his latest article, you can find Mark enjoying nature and time with family.

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