There are a lot of misconceptions and questions about credit scores, including when they get updated. Discover the answer to this question and take control of your credit score.
Credit bureaus update your credit score as they receive new information from your creditors. Most creditors will report to the bureaus once a month, but each does so at a different time of the month. Your creditors may not report to all three bureaus, so your score can vary between bureaus.
Explore when your credit score updates in more detail, as well as how you can use this information to your benefit.
Your credit score is an important part of your financial health. It affects your ability to get a home or auto loan, a personal loan, and your ability to open a credit card. It can also affect your ability to rent a home as well as countless other parts of your financial capacity. As such, most people like to keep an eye on their credit score. This leads to the question of how frequently it updates. After all, it is pointless to check your report or score again if it hasn’t changed.
When you request your credit score or a potential lender checks it, it is typically calculated on demand. This means that the score will usually be as recent as possible, updated for that time. But this doesn’t mean that your credit score updates every day.
The credit bureaus can only add information to your credit report and use it in calculating your credit score if they have the information. This means that when your score updates are mostly dependent on when your creditors report to the bureaus.
As a general rule of thumb, most creditors will make this report about once per month, but each may do so at a different time of the month. Maybe one credit card always reports on the first of the month while your mortgage lender always reports on the 15th. Any time a creditor reports to the bureaus, that will be reflected in your score the next time it is calculated. And if you open a new credit card, it may be a few months until the issuer reports to the bureaus.
But you should also keep in mind that not all creditors report to every bureau. As such, your credit scores may vary depending on where a potential lender looks.
As mentioned, there are multiple credit bureaus. Specifically, there are three different bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Your score can be different in each of these bureaus for two main reasons:
Remember that your score can also vary based on when you check it. As such, if you want to compare your scores across credit bureaus, you should do so on the same date for the most accurate comparison.
You should be aware of these potential differences because many potential lenders will just check your score with one or two bureaus. And you may not know which one they use unless you ask.
TransUnion and Equifax are just two of the different credit bureaus. They each use their own proprietary scoring models, and they may have different information. All three of the bureaus regularly use your FICO score, which is one way to calculate your credit score. But Equifax also commonly uses the VantageScore, which is calculated slightly differently.
Both the FICO and Vantage scores are designed to evaluate your ability to pay, helping lenders decide whether to lend to you and what interest rate to charge. As of the Vantage 3.0 and 4.0 systems, both systems will give you a score between 300 and 850, and higher scores are better. Either score is also based on factors like the account type mix, credit utilization ratio, payment history, and account age.
The biggest differences between the two scoring models come down to the points value and the evaluation associated with each score. Simply put, FICO and VantageScore will weigh the various factors affecting your credit score differently. Unsurprisingly, this can mean that you have different scores in each system.
The other difference mentioned is how lenders evaluate or rate your score based on its number. Because of the differences in weighting, the terms used to describe your score vary. In either case, there are five tiers, but they are named differently and have different ranges.
FICO scores are as follows:
For VantageScore, it is as follows:
You will notice that some of the tiers or assessments have similar names but very different score ranges. This is a good example of why your credit score can vary so much between bureaus.
We’ve mentioned that your credit score can vary between bureaus because of how they calculate the score and the differences in which creditors report to which bureaus. But there is another potential reason – one credit bureau may remove an item, but the others haven’t.
Simply put, just because one credit bureau removes an item from your report and score calculations, there is no requirement for the other bureaus to follow suit. They will want to have the most accurate information, but their calculations and reports depend on the information available to them.
What does this mean in practicality? It means that if you notice an error on your credit report, you should also check the reports from the other bureaus to see if there are errors. Then, dispute the error on every report where it appears. Don’t just assume that correcting one will correct the others, as the bureaus are independent and work independently of each other.
After you dispute the errors, expect it to take up to 30 to 45 days for your credit reports to be updated.
While an item being removed from the report from one bureau doesn’t typically mean it is also removed from the other bureaus; there is one notable exception. This is when the item becomes old enough that it can no longer affect your credit score.
This depends on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which limits how long the credit bureaus can keep certain information on your credit report. The limit is seven years for negative information and ten years for positive information.
Credit bureaus will ensure they comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. So, if these older items haven’t been removed from your report before the seven or ten years are up, you can expect all three bureaus to remove them at the same time.
While learning about your credit score and when it is updated, there are also some other things you should know.
Most of the differences between your credit score in different bureaus will be minor, as will the changes to your credit score. However, changes to your credit utilization or late payments can cause more significant changes to your score.
A late payment will have to be delayed by at least 30 days for it to affect your report. The later the payment is, the worse its impact on your score will be. And remember that these late payments can stay on your report for seven years.
In terms of credit utilization, there are two major circumstances to look out for. If you accumulate new debt, such as taking out a new loan, expect your score to drop by a fair amount. On the other hand, if you pay off a lot of debt, expect it to increase.
Despite the fact that your credit score is regularly updated, it can take time to improve your credit score. A major reason for this is that your creditors need to report your new, improved habits to the bureaus. Because improvements to your credit score can take time, it is best to start as soon as possible. Keep the following tips in mind:
Your credit score is typically calculated when it is requested, based on the latest information available. When new information becomes available depends on the timing in which your creditors report to the bureaus. Most report once a month, but not all of your creditors will report to all of the bureaus. This can also lead to differences in your score between the credit bureaus.