Q: How long does it take a credit card purchase to show on credit report? I’m trying to fix my credit history and raise my credit score so I can buy a house later this year. I don`t know if you are the right person to ask, but any advice/pointers you might have would be very much appreciated.

A: It’s not the purchase itself that damages, changes or improves your credit score, your credit history or even your credit card history – it’s the failure to pay the bill on time that shows up and hurts you. But paying on time, not over extending your credit line and managing your credit prudently will help raise your credit score.

Credit reports do not show individual credit card purchases. Credit reports show total purchase amounts, payment and other history related to an account. If your question is about one purchase during one billing cycle, then that amount should show up relatively soon after the billing cycle. Credit reporting companies receive information regularly from most credit card companies.

The amount of money you’ve charged on your credit card at any point in time – even if you pay off the amount in full on or before the due date – does show up. But your credit history will make it clear whether you’ve made your payments on time and in full.

If you pay late, a late payment will stay on your credit history for two years. If you fail to pay at all, and the credit card company charges off that amount, it will stay on your account for up to 7 years.

You’re smart to think about where your credit history and score is now, well before you start your search for a home. Having a top credit score has never been more important than it is today, because lenders have tightened their credit requirements for lender. But to achieve that top credit score you’ll need to fix your credit history and then raise your credit score.

A good rule of thumb is to pull a copy of your credit history from each of the three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion at least a year in advance of when you want to buy a home. Then, pull another copy about six months before you start your search. The credit reporting bureaus are required by law to give you a free copy of your credit history once a year. You can get this most easily from AnnualCreditReport.com.

You’ll find additional information about fixing your credit history and score at my website, ThinkGlink.com/credit-report. and the following video: Raise Your Credit Score