When you’re on a mission to get your credit score up a few points so you can make a big purchase, it’s tempting to check your credit score every day. Unfortunately, you’re only going to make yourself crazy. Here’s how score updating works and how often you should take a peek.
Credit Bureaus don’t require creditors to report their information by a specific day each month, and many lenders submit batches of information to one or more credit reporting agency once per month, which slows down processing. Credit reporting agencies update the information regularly but knowing the exact day the change will show up on your score is nearly impossible.
If you have a free credit score report with your credit card company or loan company, that number is likely only updated once a month as well, so checking more often could lead to frustration.
If you need your credit score updated quickly (because you’re trying to get a loan), you may be able to get a rapid rescoring. A lender (like a mortgage broker) has to request the rapid rescore for you. There may be a fee for this service, but the credit reporting agency can update your score in days instead of weeks.
Where to Check Your Credit Score
Many people don’t know their credit score isn’t part of the credit report. While federal law requires credit reporting agencies to provide you free access to your credit report at least once per year, they are not required to provide your credit score.
If you want to access your credit score free, you have a few options, including your credit card company. Some companies offer access to your credit score free. The number is usually updated once per month. You can check if your lender offers this by logging into your account online or calling their customer service number.
Another option is to utilize one of the free credit score services like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. Both services offer email updates if something new appears on your credit score and they offer tips for improving your score. My husband and I signed up for both, and we also have a free credit score with our credit card account. We’ve noticed that there can be a significant difference between the scores you get from Credit Karma or Credit Sesame, and the number a lender shows you.
If you’re planning to apply for a major loan (like a mortgage or a car loan), consider talking with the lender beforehand to find out which scoring system they use. Chatting with your lender in advance can help ensure your score aligns with the system the lender uses.
You can also see your credit score if a lender approves or denies you access to credit based on your credit score information. Lenders are required to notify you why they made the decision they did. Your credit score will be included in the disclosure letter they send you.
If you’d prefer to get your number straight from the horse’s mouth, you can purchase your score from any of the three credit reporting agencies or FICO.
While raising your credit score may seem like an emergency, it’s a bit like baking bread. It takes a little time to rise. So be patient, and stay focused on making smart financial decisions in the meantime.