A reader recently asked, “When does my credit report/credit score get updated?”
This is a great question, and one that causes plenty of confusion and debate.
The best way to tackle this question is to first differentiate credit reports and credit scores.
I’ve already written an entire post comparing and contrasting the two, but I’ll sum it up again.
A credit report is a dynamic compilation of all your credit-based accounts and activity, while a credit score is the numerical representation of risk you present to creditors, based on that compiled information.
Both Can Change Daily
In effect, both a credit report and a credit score can be updated just about any day of the week, depending on if and when information is added, changed, OR removed.
As noted above, credit reports and credit scores are not static, but ever changing, based on what creditors report to the credit bureaus, who compile all the data.
The reports and scores are generated using the most recent data compiled, so each day the information contained in your credit report could be different – if the most recent update is significant, your credit score can move up or down.
A better way of putting it is that your credit report and score aren’t fixed for any given amount of time. You aren’t handed out a report or score for January, for February, or for March.
Sure, services like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame provide monthly updates, but that’s just a measured and organized way of allowing consumers to track their scores over time.
In the real world, they aren’t updated once a month, once a week, or once in any specific time period.
Rather, when a consumer or creditor requests a credit report or score, the information on hand as of that day is used.
If you pull your credit report on January 1st and one of your creditors submits new information to the credit bureaus on January 2nd, your credit report will be different if and when pulled again.
At the same time, it’s possible that no changes will be made to your credit report until February 2nd, in which case your report would be unchanged.
However, because most consumers have multiple accounts, changes are pretty frequent, and thus, credit scores rarely remain entirely unchanged.
For example, you may have five credit cards, an auto loan, and a mortgage. Each of those creditors will report your account activity to the credit bureaus each month.
They may update the credit bureaus at different times during the month, based on your account closing dates.
Typically, credit card issuers send their updates within a week of your closing date.
In other words, if you pay your credit card two weeks after your closing date, it won’t be reflected in your credit report or your credit score until they update their records again a month later.
Let’s break it down:
Credit card closing date: December 25th
Creditor updates credit bureaus: January 2nd
You pay credit card: January 10th
Credit report updated: February 2nd
As noted above, your most recent payment wouldn’t be reflected in your credit report/score until February 2nd, when the bureaus are informed about the January 10th payment.
Of course, this is just one account. Other accounts may be updated on different dates throughout the month, so the credit bureaus may receive 10 different updates in a given month.
Each time they receive an update, your “credit file” will change. And any changes can affect how your credit report appears and how your credit score is calculated.
Inquiries, Disputes, and Time
We’ve only scratched the surface on how your credit report and score can change.
Other things, such as credit inquiries, show up on your credit report immediately and can impact your credit score.
For example, if you apply for a new credit card, a hard inquiry will be added to your credit report instantaneously by the credit bureau who was involved in the credit pull.
These hard inquiries can lower your credit score because the more credit you apply for, especially in a short period of time, the higher the chances you’ll get into trouble, from a creditor’s standpoint.
[Does a credit check lower your score?]
While the inquiry will show up right away, because the credit bureau is directly involved, the creditor may not update the bureau with the outcome of the inquiry (new account or declined application) for a month or so after.
So aside from existing accounts updating, new changes to your credit file can impact your credit report and score too.
While all this is going on, time ticks on, and with it may come changes. As information on your credit report ages, it may have less impact on your credit score.
Negative items may fall off your credit report after “X” amount of years, and with that will come more updates.
Finally, if you dispute items on your credit report, and successfully get them removed, the credit bureau(s) will update their records. Again, this will affect your credit report and score.
Unfortunately, many changes aren’t instantaneous, which can be a concern for a consumer looking to raise their credit score in a hurry.
If you made changes and need them to be reflected on your credit report/score as soon as possible, a rapid rescore service could speed up the process.
Something like this could come in handy when applying for a mortgage, in which you need a certain score to qualify or obtain a desired rate.
It seems to take forever for anything to change, and my info is never current.
It’s true, credit reports and scores often have a time lag because creditors need to report your history to the bureaus, so it’s always a bit behind. But as long as you’re always doing good things, it won’t matter when they report. So stick to good credit habits and you’ll be fine.