When you’re working on building credit or improving your credit score, you want to see results – the sooner the better.
But updates to your credit report don’t seem to happen on any sort of logical timeline. Sometimes, it takes weeks or months for an update to appear, while other activity seems to register immediately.
So when do credit reports update? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to how quickly your credit report will update. It depends on the type of information being updated, and varies among the different credit reporting bureaus.
According to myFICO.com, there are essentially four types of information on a credit report.
Let’s look at each of these four types of information in more detail to understand how often they update on your credit report.
Personally identifiable information (PII) isn’t used to calculate your credit score. Instead, it helps creditors and credit bureaus identify you.
When you move, change your name, or change employers, you can contact each of the three credit bureaus directly to update your information right away.
Most people simply update the information on file with their existing creditors, however, and those credit providers include your updated information in their usual credit reporting to the credit bureaus.
Since you’ll need to wait for your creditors to update their files, send the information to the credit bureaus, and then wait for the credit bureaus to update their credit records, this process can take anywhere from 30 to 45 days.
Each of your credit accounts likely has a different due date and payment cycle. For example, you might have a car payment due on the 5th of each month, a credit card payment due on the 15th, and a personal loan payment due on the 27th.
Because those due dates and payment cycles are scattered throughout the month, information such as credit card balances, your credit utilization ratio, credit limits and payment history are updated at different times throughout the month.
The credit bureaus don’t require lenders to submit information by a specific deadline each month. Nor are credit reporting cycles always tied to a lender's billing cycle.
As if that weren’t potentially confusing enough, some smaller creditors might not report information to the credit bureaus at all, and even major lenders don’t report to all three major credit bureaus.
According to TransUnion:
“Creditors are not obligated to report your loan activity – they do it because it’s in their best interest to gauge consumer’ creditworthiness.”
Still, most lenders do report to the major credit bureaus, so you can probably count on your credit information being updated every 30 to 45 days.
Other credit account information might update immediately. For example, according to Experian:
“Late payments are deleted seven years from the original delinquency date. Closed accounts that show no late payments may remain on the report for ten years from the date they were closed.”
So if you’re waiting for old negative information to fall off of your credit report, those timeframes should give you a good idea of when your report will update.
Credit inquiries appear on your credit report faster than any other type of information.
When you apply for credit or a service that requires a credit check (such as a utility), a hard inquiry is instantly added to your credit report.
Soft inquiries, which typically happen when a lender wants to send you a pre-approval offer, also appear in your credit file immediately. Fortunately, soft inquiries do not affect your credit score.
Inquiries remain on your credit report for two years.
Public records can take anywhere from a week to a month to appear on your credit report. Examples of public records that can appear on your credit report incclude: your mortgage lender forecloses on your home, you file for bankruptcy or one of your accounts goes into collection.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for ten years from the filing date. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will be removed from your credit report seven years from the filing date.
Credit scores are based on the information included in your credit report. And since your credit report is constantly in flux, so is your credit score.
According to TransUnion:
“When the credit bureaus receive information regarding your accounts, they typically add it to your credit report right away. They’ll recalculate your credit score based on this new information immediately.”
Let’s say you’re shopping for a mortgage or car loan and want to get a better interest rate. You have the cash to pay off your credit card balance in full and hope paying off that balance will improve your credit score enough to qualify for the lower rate. Do you really have to wait 30 to 45 days for your credit report to update? Maybe not.
Rapid rescoring allows lenders to submit proof of recent changes to your credit accounts to a credit bureau. In exchange for a fee, the credit bureau will add that information to your credit report and recalculate your score.
Rapid rescoring can get your credit score updated within a few days.
You can’t request a rapid rescore on your own – it’s a service offered only through lenders. So talk to your mortgage or auto loan lender. They can help you determine whether your current credit score is within a few points of the score needed to qualify for a lower interest rate or better loan terms.
Keeping track of your credit would be a lot simpler if you knew which day of the month your credit report updated, but your credit report is a snapshot in time.
Your credit report can change within days, or even hours, as different types of information are added to and removed from your credit history.
Unless you’re currently trying to qualify for a mortgage or car loan, you don’t need to worry about checking your credit report or your credit score from day to day, or paying for credit monitoring services.
Check your credit score monthly – they’re often shown on credit card statements – and order free copies of your credit report annually from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Watch for errors or unexplained drops in your credit score that could be signs of identity theft, and dispute incorrect information right away.
Ultimately, it’s the long-term factors like the length of your credit history and record of on-time payments that matter most – not daily or weekly fluctuations.
Janet Berry-Johnson is a Certified Public Accountant and freelance writer with a background in accounting and insurance. Her writing has appeared in Forbes, Freshbooks, The Penny Hoarder, and several other major outlets. See Janet on Linkedin and Twitter.