Are you thinking of taking a loan for a large purchase? Have you been making all the right money moves but haven’t seen your credit score improve? Read on to find out how long it’s going to take for your credit score to update.
How Does Scoring Work?
Any time someone checks your credit score, whether it’s you who’s checking or a potential lender, your score will only reflect what’s been updated in your credit report at that time.
So, if you recently paid off a considerable debt and applied for a loan two days after, the lender may still see the credit score that reflects the outstanding debt and decide your interest rate according to that credit score.
Checking your credit score regularly is a healthy habit, but it can be quite disappointing to check your score repeatedly and see no change. So, to understand how often your credit score is updated, let’s understand how it works.
How Credit Reporting Affects Your Credit Score
When you make a financial decision, such as buying something on credit, paying off an outstanding bill, or opening a new credit account, your credit card company notifies the credit bureaus of these transactions. The credit bureaus then update your credit reports to reflect these transactions.
Your credit report is an extremely detailed account of every financial transaction you have made and is frequently updated by credit bureaus. There are three major credit bureaus in the U.S.; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
What Happens After Your Credit Is Reported?
Once your credit report is updated, a deep statistical analysis gives you a three-digit number, which is your credit score. Typically, a credit score ranges between 300 and 850. It gives lenders and financial institutions a one-glance impression of what your financial habits have been like and how responsibly you pay back debt. In addition, the credit score can save lenders the trouble of going through pages of detailed reports to gauge your creditworthiness.
Your credit scores continuously fluctuate as your latest transactions are updated on your credit report. So, your score will only reflect whatever the credit bureaus have updated on your credit report at any given point.
How Often Do Creditors Report To Bureaus?
Credit bureaus can only update your credit reports once lenders and creditors report your transaction details to them.
There’s no fixed schedule that creditors or lenders follow while reporting to the credit bureaus.
Each lender follows their individual reporting cycle, which may or may not be constant. Usually, every lender reports to the bureau once every 30-45 days, but it’s up to the lender.
Note that your lender may send your credit information to different bureaus at different times, so on any given day, your scores may differ when checking at two different bureaus.
Once a lender has reported information to the bureau, the bureau cross-checks and verifies the data and looks for any errors before updating your credit report. This process takes a few days, and your credit scores only change once the report is updated.
How Often Do Credit Scores Update?
If you’ve been working on improving your credit score and are waiting for your efforts to manifest into a higher number, you’re going to have to be extremely patient. Credit scores aren’t updated instantly, and it might be a slow climb to a better score.
The frequency of your credit score updates depends on numerous factors. A change in any one of the variables triggers a difference in the score. For example, a greater transaction rate can mean your scores change more frequently.
Generally, your scores update at least once a month, but they may be updated more frequently if you have multiple credit accounts. Each creditor reports at different times to the bureau, which could change the score several times in a month.
The scores are calculated in real-time when you request to view your score, so if your credit reports have been updated since the last time you checked, the score would have changed.
Depending on which scoring model is used to calculate your score, there can be some scoring differences. The two most popular credit scoring models are FICO and VantageScore.
That said, there’s no fixed number for how often credit scores update. It is different for everybody, and it could also differ for the same person from month to month.
Can Your Score Change Without Making Transactions?
Sometimes, your credit score can change even if you are not currently swiping your card for any transactions. Here are a few reasons that your score may have changed even if you haven’t made any transactions:
- As you continue to pay off mortgages or installment loans, your overall debt continuously reduces even though you don’t see it as a transaction. A reduction in overall debt can improve your credit score.
- If you have a credit card that you rarely use, the company might reduce your credit limit on that card. This means that even if you have spent a small amount on credit, your credit utilization ratio might have increased because of your lowered credit limit.
You are now using a more significant percentage of your available credit. Your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your credit score and can create a notable change in your score. It may be smart to try to get a higher credit limit from your credit card company so that your credit utilization ratio remains low.
- If you are a long-time credit card user, your score could be improving without you making any transaction on your card. This is because card companies often reward longstanding customers.
Even if you don’t actively swipe your credit card, watching your credit score fluctuations can be wise. This way, you can also ensure that you’re not overlooking any reporting errors or fraudulent transactions in your account.
How Often Should You Check Your Score?
Checking your credit score has no drawbacks, so you can check it as often as you want to. There are many websites where you can view your score for free. Most financial institutions also allow you to view your credit score for free.
However, you don’t have to check your credit score every day. It’s enough to review your score every couple of months.
You may also want to check your credit reports once every four to five months. Checking your reports can help you identify any errors in reporting and check for fraudulent transactions.
Practice Managing Your Credit
While it’s okay to check your score as often as you like, it may be wise to avoid having lenders or creditors check your score often. When lenders review your score, it calls for a hard inquiry on your credit history, lowering your credit score.
Minimize hard inquiries by only applying for new credit you are sure to get. This way, you aren’t triggering a hard inquiry on your account only for your loan to be rejected.
There is no fixed time or schedule for your credit score to update, but usually, you can expect an updated score at least once a month. Keeping track of your credit score and credit reports updates is important because your score can change even without any direct transaction made in your account.
Good scores reflect well on you and smoothen out the process for any loan you might need in the future, so check your credit scores regularly. If you want to build your credit score, we invite you to early access to VITAL.
VITAL is a credit card company that pays you to share and spend responsibly. With VITAL’s world-class customer service, members are encouraged to make well-informed financial decisions that build your credit score and save you money.
VITAL Card blog posts are intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial or any other type of advice.