Credit Scores 101: When Does Your Credit Score Update?
We all like instant gratification, but when it comes to credit score updates, you’ll need a little more patience. Here’s what to expect.
March 14, 2022
If you’ve been working hard to improve your credit score, it’s only natural to want to see the results of your hard work as soon as possible. However, your score isn’t instantly updated every time you make a credit card payment or loan application. Instead, you have to wait for a few complex processes to complete. So, when does your credit score update, and what does that mean for you as a borrower?
There’s no universal answer, so let’s run through:
The mechanisms behind credit scores
Possible ways to speed up the process
What all this means for you
How to keep your score in great condition
How is your credit score determined?
It takes a few different parties to compile a credit score, resulting in a fairly complex process. Knowing what’s happening behind the scenes is key to understanding the frequency of credit score updates.
First, your lender reports information about your borrowing activity to credit reporting agencies. The three main credit bureaus are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. These credit bureaus use the data from the lenders to compile your credit report.
The information reported varies slightly between agencies, but an Equifax credit report includes factors like:
Types of credit accounts
Applications for new credit accounts
Once your credit report is updated, dedicated credit scoring agencies (i.e., FICO and VantageScore) use the report to determine your credit score.
As you can probably imagine, it takes a while for all of these steps to be completed. Plus, your lenders aren’t sitting at a screen waiting for your credit activity to change and passing that information on to credit bureaus immediately. Instead, they only pass on the data at certain intervals.
Plus, each of the major credit bureaus receives the information at a different point, and not every creditor reports to each credit bureau — some might just choose one or two.
How often do lenders report to the credit bureaus?
At this point, you can probably see how many variables are at play when figuring out how often you can expect a credit score update. Now, let’s start to examine how often lenders report to credit bureaus.
Lenders tend to report to credit bureaus monthly, but their schedules vary, so they may report less frequently.
For instance, when it comes to credit cards, the billing cycle is the center of everything. Generally, a credit card billing cycle is 28 to 30 days long. At the end of your billing cycle, the credit card company will report your account information to the credit bureaus. Changes to your account, such as payments, may take up to 45 days depending on your billing cycle when the payment was made.
If you’re worried about your reporting frequency and would like an exact number, it’s worth asking your lender which credit bureaus they report to and how often they do so. However, remember that every lender will have different arrangements, so you’ll need to contact each one separately.
When does your credit score update?
So, let’s pull everything together. If you have a single credit account, your lender will pass on your borrower activity to the credit bureaus around once a month. Those bureaus will update your credit report when this information is received, and then, your credit score will change to account for the latest details of your report. In this scenario, you’ll likely see your credit score change about once a month.
However, if you have multiple credit products, each one will operate with different time frames — meaning you can expect more frequent updates to your credit report and, thus, your credit score. In other words, the more credit products you have, the more often your score will change. It’s even possible for it to change from day to day.
Can you make updates happen faster?
A month can seem like a long time to wait for your score to update if you need to access new credit now. Fortunately, if you want to apply for a mortgage, there’s an exception.
You may be able to opt for a “rapid rescore,” which involves requesting an update to your credit report. This is sometimes possible if your credit score has narrowly missed the requirements needed for approval yet you know you’ve recently made the changes needed to secure a better score.
As a result, you could have your credit score updated in just a few days.
However, you’ll need to send proof that your borrowing activity has changed (e.g, that you paid off your outstanding balance) and pay a fee. You also can’t ask for a rapid rescore on your own — it’s something you must do alongside your lender.
How can I check my credit score?
Considering the length of time it can take for your credit score to reflect changes in your activity, it’s important to plan for any credit applications in advance so you know your score will be at the level you need it. If you’re hoping to apply for a new loan any time soon, make sure you know what your credit score is and how to improve it.
There are a few ways to find out your credit score. You may be able to get your FICO Score or VantageScore for free through your credit card issuer. You can also receive your score from the three major credit bureaus, credit scoring agencies or a credit monitoring service, but these options may or may not be free.
To understand the bigger picture of the factors that have influenced your score and anything you might need to change, it’s also a good idea to check your credit report. You can get a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Be sure to look out for errors on your credit report that might be pushing your score down. You may even find entries that are the product of identity theft (such as someone applying for credit using your Social Security number). In either case, you can file a dispute to remove the incorrect entries.
How to maximize your credit score
If you’re going to have to wait for your credit score to update, you might as well make sure that the score you’re waiting for is a good one. To do that, you’ll need to build credit. Although different credit scoring models are used, most of the factors that can boost your credit score are universal.
Making on-time payments and avoiding missed payments
Maintaining a low credit utilization ratio by keeping your credit use well-below your available credit limit
Avoiding making too many credit inquiries
Keeping your credit card accounts open to maximize your account history
There’s no need to sit around waiting
It can feel like waiting for a credit report to update takes forever, and there’s certainly a lot going on behind the scenes. So, put that time to good use by doing everything you can to secure a good credit score. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a pleasant surprise the next time you check your score?
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