How Often Does FICO Score Update, and How Can You Improve Your Score?
Your FICO Score updates regularly, giving you plenty of opportunities to improve it.
Contributing Writer at Tally
December 6, 2022
Understanding and maximizing your credit score is a great personal finance goal, as a good credit score can help you secure a home or car loan relatively easily. However, with so much information going into your credit score, it can take a lot of work to keep track of it all.
One common question surrounding credit scores is: How often does your FICO Score update? To help you better grasp your credit score and how to manage it, we answer this question and offer some guidance on what goes into a FICO Score and how to improve it below.
How often does your FICO Score update?
Generally, your FICO credit score will update at least once per month, but plenty of caveats exist in the world of your FICO Score.
The actual rule surrounding credit score updates is it’ll change every time the information on your credit report changes. This is why it’ll typically change at least once per month, as your creditors generally report the latest information to the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — once a month.
That said, your credit score can sometimes update multiple times monthly. For example, if you take out a new loan in the first week of the month, that new loan can trigger a mid-month FICO Score update.
Remember your creditors and lenders won’t always update the credit bureaus simultaneously. One may report on the first of the month, while another may not report your information until the 15th of the month. This would result in two FICO Score updates in a month.
So, how often does your FICO score update? It depends on how often creditors report new information to your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies.
How is your FICO Score calculated?
The actual FICO credit score algorithm is a trade secret, but we understand what goes into calculating your credit score and what matters most. The FICO scoring model uses five main categories to create your credit score, and each category has a different amount of impact on your score.
Let’s review these five variables, their meaning and how much they matter to your FICO Score.
Payment history is the most significant variable, making up 35% of a FICO Score. This factor considers all payments to lenders and creditors, such as credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans and lines of credit.
If you make all your payments within 30 days of the due date, the creditor will report them as on-time payments, which can help improve your credit score. If you make a late payment 30 days or more after the due date, the creditor could report it as a missed payment, which can lower your credit score.
This variable also looks at public record information, such as bankruptcy, lawsuits, wage garnishment and judgments.
Amounts owed is the second most important variable in the FICO scoring model, as it makes up 30% of the FICO credit scoring model. This variable looks at a wide range of factors, including:
The amount of debt you owe on all accounts
The amount owed on specific types of accounts,
How much you owe on installment accounts relative to their original balance
Your credit utilization ratio on all revolving debt
Credit utilization ratio is a significant part of the amounts owed variable. This ratio represents all your credit card balances and other revolving debt balances relative to your total credit limits. So, if you have $3,000 in total credit card debt and $10,000 in total credit card limits, you have a 30% credit utilization ratio.
Length of credit history
Length of credit history accounts for 15% of a FICO Score and looks at several factors dealing with how long credit’s been in use. According to FICO, the main areas of focus are:
How long your credit accounts have been open
Age of the oldest account
Age of the newest account
Age of specific types of debt
How long it has been since each account has been used
The purpose of the length of credit history variable is to ensure you have established credit accounts, use those accounts and don’t open too many new accounts or close established accounts. The longer your length of credit history is, the more favorably it impacts your credit score.
Credit mix is one of the smallest factors in a FICO Score, as it accounts for only 10% of the score. This factor considers the type of credit accounts. The more balanced they are, the better the impact it has on your credit score.
The two types of credit accounts are:
Revolving debts: These are debts with a credit limit that you can use multiple times, like credit cards, personal lines of credit and home equity lines of credit.
Installment debts: These are debts with a fixed payment term, and you can only use one time to fund a purchase. Some installment debt examples include auto loans, home equity loans, personal loans, debt consolidation loans, student loans and mortgages.
Keeping a balanced credit profile is important, but remember that opening multiple accounts just to balance it out could be counterproductive, which you’ll learn with the next credit scoring factor.
The new credit variable counts for only 10% of a FICO Score. This factor looks at three main things.
First, it considers how many new accounts you have. Opening too many new accounts at once can negatively impact the new credit variable, resulting in negative credit score changes.
Second, it looks at how many hard credit inquiries you’ve had in the last 12 months. Hard credit inquiries are when a potential creditor views your credit file when approving or denying a credit application. Too many hard inquiries can negatively impact this variable and potentially lower your FICO Score. Soft credit inquiries, however, have no impact on the new credit variable
Third, it considers how long it’s been since you opened a new credit account. The older your newest account is, the more favorably it impacts this variable and can help your credit score.
How can you improve your FICO Score?
One personal finance goal many people aim for is a good credit score or better. But how do you go about improving your FICO Score? Let’s cover a few tips and tricks.
Automating monthly payments
Late payments can be score killers if you get too many of them, but you can avoid this by automating your monthly payments. Most credit card issuers allow you to set up automatic monthly payments for the minimum payment, statement balance or a custom amount.
If you plan to pay off the statement balance monthly to avoid interest charges while capitalizing on cash back or other rewards, opt to pay the balance each month automatically. But at the very least, you can automate the minimum payment due to avoid late fees and potential missed payment marks on your credit.
If your credit card company doesn’t offer this feature, you can also automate payments through your bank’s online bill pay interface.
Over time, you will develop a good payment history, which may help boost your credit score.
Lowering credit utilization ratio
The lower your credit utilization ratio, the better. Most experts believe anything under a 30% credit utilization ratio is good for the FICO credit scoring model, but the further under 30% you are, the more positively it impacts your score.
One way to lower your ratio is to pay down the balances on your credit cards and other revolving debts. You can use either the debt avalanche or debt snowball repayment method to streamline the process.
The debt avalanche focuses on accounts with the highest interest rates, saving you money. The debt snowball focuses on accounts with the lowest balances first, giving you motivational small victories earlier in the process.
Another way to lower your ratio is to take out a debt consolidation loan to pay off some or all your credit card balances. This immediately converts all that revolving debt to installment debt, lowering your credit utilization ratio and potentially leading to a quick credit score increase.
Using a credit card for budgeted expenses
Building credit means using credit, so choose a credit card that fits your needs and then use it for budgeted expenses. This can help you improve your payment history and avoid accumulating debt.
When you use your card for expenses you’ve already budgeted for, it makes it easier to pay the statement balance in full when you get the bill. By doing this, you can show regular credit card use, make on-time payments and earn any rewards the card offers.
On top of that, you’ll avoid interest charges when you pay the balance off within the interest grace period.
FICO Score updates can be pretty random
So, how often does your FICO Score update? It really depends on how often new credit information is reported to the three main credit bureaus. Typically, it’ll update at least once monthly, but you could also have multiple credit score updates hit your credit report within a month.
Instead of focusing on how often your FICO Score updates, you may be better to focus on what credit scoring factors matter most and how to build your credit score through automated on-time payments, lowering your credit utilization rate and using your credit card responsibly.
If you need to pay off credit card debt, check out the Tally† credit card debt repayment app. The app helps you manage your credit card payments, and Tally offers a lower-interest line of credit, allowing you to efficiently pay off higher-interest credit cards.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% and 29.99% per year and will be based on your credit history. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 to $300.