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Lenders, credit card issuers and other data reporters typically update your credit information at the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) once every month. Because each reporter sets its own update schedule, the contents of your credit reports can change continually.
When Do Creditors Update Accounts?
The lenders and credit card issuers you make payments to each month update the credit bureaus monthly on the status of your most recent payments (whether they were made in full and on time) and the amounts of your outstanding loan or card balances.
Each creditor may update a given bureau on a different day or week of the month. Because of this, and because you may have multiple creditors providing updates according to their own schedules, the information in your credit report at a given bureau can change from day to day.
- Credit Card A reports your payment and balance information to Experian on the first, to TransUnion on the 10th and to Equifax on the 20th.
- Credit Card B reports to Experian on the seventh of the month, to TransUnion on the 15th and to Equifax on the 24th.
- Your student loan reports to Experian on the eighth of each month, to TransUnion on the first and to Equifax on the 15th of each month.
In this example, at the very least, each credit report will change three times monthly:
- Experian on the first, seventh and eighth
- TransUnion on the first, 10th and 15th
- Equifax on the 15th, 20th and 24th
Note that even when two reports are updated on the same day, each is receiving information from a different creditor, so changes to each report may be different. It's therefore normal for the contents of your credit report at one credit bureau to differ from those at another on any given day.
Other Information Is Also Updated Continuously
Aside from payment and balance information from your existing accounts, information from other sources can also cause regular changes in your credit reports. These include:
- Hard inquiries: A hard inquiry is a request to view one of your credit reports for purposes of processing a loan or credit application. A hard inquiry appears on each of your credit reports soon after you apply for a loan or credit card.
- Soft inquiries: A soft inquiry is a request for your credit information that's unrelated to an application for new credit. These happen when you check your own credit report, you authorize a service to track your credit or you're setting up an account with a new utility company and they check your credit to determine if you'll have to pay a security deposit, for example. While soft inquiries show up on your credit report, they have no bearing on your credit scores.
- Collection accounts: If a bill you've failed to pay is turned over to a collection department or agency, an entry typically appears on your credit reports. This applies to unpaid loans and credit card accounts but also to other debts that are not usually tracked on credit reports, such as utility bills and medical bills.
- Bankruptcy filings: If you seek bankruptcy protection, an entry typically appears on your credit reports within a month or two of the date you file your petition with the court.
How Long Does Information Stay on My Credit Report?
While the addition of new information means continual change for your credit reports, so does the eventual disappearance of older information. Entries "fall off" your credit report at intervals that depend on the nature of the information they contain.
- Most negative entries expire after seven years. Records of credit missteps that can cause declines in credit scores expire after seven years. These include:
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains for 10 years. A notable exception to the seven-year rule for negative information is Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Also known as dissolution bankruptcy, Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on your credit reports for 10 years from the date of the bankruptcy filing.
- Inquiries remain for two years. Hard inquiries, which can cause small, temporary dips in credit scores, expire after two years. So do soft inquiries, which have no effect on credit scores.
- Positive entries and accounts closed in good standing persist for 10 years. Information that benefits your credit scores stays on your credit reports for as long as 10 years. This includes loans you've paid off as agreed and credit card accounts closed in good standing.
When Are Credit Scores Updated?
A credit score is calculated using the contents of a credit report from one of the three national credit bureaus. The score reflects the contents of that report at the moment the score is requested, whether by you, a creditor or another legally allowed entity. Frequent changes to credit reports, as described above, mean a score derived today from a given credit report will likely be different from one taken on a different day, or perhaps even a few hours earlier or later.
Furthermore, because creditors typically update each credit bureau on somewhat different schedules, credit scores based on data from different credit bureaus, even if calculated at the exact same date and time, using identical scoring software, will seldom be the same.
This variability in credit reports and scores is normal, and lenders recognize it. When making lending decisions, many lenders compensate for these variations by using scores based on data from two or even all three credit bureaus.
Check Your Credit Report With Experian
Continual change is the normal state of credit reports, and it's normal for credit scores based on those reports to shift up and down from month to month. If you adopt good credit management habits, over the long term you can expect score improvement. You can see updates to your credit report firsthand with a free credit report from Experian. Review your report and look for things you can do that may improve your score, such as bringing past-due accounts current.