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Score Advice

How Often Does Your Credit Score Change?

Through April 20, 2021, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.

Dear Experian,

Why doesn't my credit score update or change? The last date on my credit score says September 2018. I have been working hard since then to bring everything up to date and it is not reflecting in my score.

- ZDK

Dear ZDK,

It sounds like the service you are using is displaying an old score based on an old credit report. If you have not ordered a new credit report and score since September 2018, then you may still see the same score from that date each time you log in.

You can order your free credit score from Experian as often as you like without impacting your creditworthiness. The information in your credit report is constantly being updated, and as your credit information changes, your credit score will change too.

When Should You Check Your Credit Score?

Although some say you should check your credit report at least once a year, checking even more frequently can be very beneficial. Checking your credit report and credit score frequently can help you stay on top of your credit accounts and ensure you know where you stand when you go to apply for new credit. It can also help you alert you to possible credit fraud or identity theft sooner.

Many people mistakenly believe that checking your own credit reports or scores can negatively impact you, but that is not the case. You can check your own credit reports and credit scores as often as you like without hurting your creditworthiness.

If you haven't already, you can request a free copy of your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. From now through April 2021, you can order your free report from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax once a week. You can also request your free credit report from Experian online anytime.

How to Check Your Credit Score

You can also request your credit score for free through Experian online. When you receive your credit score, it will come with a list of the risk factors that are most affecting it.

Experian also offers a free credit monitoring service you can use to better stay on top of your credit. Experian's credit monitoring will alert you to changes and new activity that warrant your attention. Downloading the Experian mobile app means you can check your alerts and view your report and score quickly and easily.

Understanding Your Credit Scores

Keep in mind that there are many credit scoring systems, and each one may have different criteria and different numerical ranges. Because of that, the credit score you receive may vary substantially from one lender to another, depending on the model they choose.

While the credit score number itself can vary considerably, risk factors (including your payment history, credit card debt and the age of your accounts) tend to be weighted fairly consistently across scoring systems. If improving those risk factors causes one score to rise, it's probable your other credit scores are also getting a lift.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Although paying attention to your personal risk factors is key to improving your credit scores, the two most important factors in any credit score are always your payment history and your credit utilization ratio. Therefore, the most important things anyone can do to improve their credit scores are:

  • Make all your payments on time. Even if you have struggled in the past and have delinquencies in your history, bringing all accounts current and making all payments on time going forward is key to restoring your credit worthiness.
  • Reduce your credit card balances. Experts recommend keeping your utilization rate under 30%, but below 10% is best.
  • Get current on any late accounts. If you're late on any payments, have accounts in collections or charged off accounts in your credit history, getting caught up on your payments can help. Continuing to miss payments on an account will only serve to further harm your scores. Although still negative, lenders tend to view a paid collection or a paid charge off more favorably than an unpaid one.

Checking your credit score and your credit report frequently and paying attention to your unique risk factors will help you gain a solid understanding of how to improve your overall creditworthiness and improve all of your credit scores.

Thanks for asking.
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist

How Good Is Your Credit Score?

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