Dear Dr. Don,
I recently refinanced my home from an adjustable-rate mortgage and a HELOC into a fixed-rate loan at 6.5 percent. I could have gotten a better rate with a higher credit score, but my credit score was only 620 because of some late payments on the HELOC and some late payments on a few of my credit cards. I refinanced $417,000 and the house is worth around $750,000.

I’ve since paid off the credit cards and have had zero balances on six cards for over a month now. I am very unhappy with the 6.5 percent rate, given my zero debt on the credit cards. I didn’t close any of the accounts.

How long will it take for my credit score to enter the 700s again? Also, if I ask the company to remove the negative credit, are there time limits by which it must respond?

Robert Reply

Dear Robert,
Paying off the credit cards will help your credit score in short order. However, the late payments are going to stay with you for a while — they remain on your credit report for seven years.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act speaks to how rapidly a dispute has to be investigated on your credit report. In general, the consumer reporting agency has 30 days to investigate and rule on a dispute.

The dispute should be made in writing to the consumer reporting agency that has the negative information on your credit report. The three major agencies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The Bankrate feature ” Fixing mistakes on your credit report” will help you with the dispute process. My sense is that you don’t really have grounds for a dispute. A dispute isn’t going to make the late payments go away unless you can show you made the payments on time.

As I write this, Bankrate’s national average for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate loans is 6.13 percent. You’ll spend thousands in closing costs to refinance a home you just refinanced. My advice is for you to hold on to your 6.5 percent loan for now and don’t be so impatient for your credit score to improve. It won’t take seven years.

To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the “Ask the Experts” page, and select one of these topics: “financing a home,” “saving & investing” or ” money.”