You may feel tempted to check your credit score every day to track its improvement, but this usually becomes an exercise in futility. The national credit reporting bureaus update their files all the time, but it is ultimately up to your creditors to give them something new to report. In some cases, you may wait months to see your score improve or as little as a few days.
Your credit score only improves when new, positive data enters your report. The effects of the data has two limitations: When your creditor reports it and when the credit agencies update their files. The agencies do not follow any set schedule to update their reports, so it can happen at any time. However, because of technical capabilities, this usually takes one to three months. Even if the agencies updated their reports daily, they probably would have nothing to report on most days because creditors usually only send in payment data once a month.
If you have several negative items on your credit report, such as bankruptcy, it may take months or even a year before you see an appreciable difference in your score. Positive items -- paying a bill on time -- have far less of an impact than a bad item, like missing a payment. Also, lenders usually break scores down into tiers. Lifting a score from 620 to 630, for example, probably would not make a difference to a lender, because both scores fall in the average range.
Improve Your Score in Three Days
Disputing an item and having the credit agency side with you provides the fastest method for improving your score. This too, however, can take months. The agencies have 30 days to investigate your case and even if you win, you have to wait for the bureaus to update their databases. The alternative is rapid rescoring. This type of service offers to correct errors on your report in as little as three days for what often amounts to a minimal fee compared to what it can save you on a loan, because negative items can drag down a score and increase the cost of a loan. Private individuals cannot access this service, only lenders, such as a mortgage provider. Also, the creditor must admit to reporting an item in error or agree that something is erroneous in writing. A rapid rescoring service usually does not investigate a claim.
When you have a poor score, nothing other than disputing errors can improve your score drastically in a short period of time. The Fair Isaac Corporation recommends consumers be patient and work on paying down debt and sending in their monthly payments on time. As long as you do this, your score eventually rises into the top tier of scores.
- GoBankingRates.com; How Often is My Credit Report Updated?; September 2009
- bills.com; Information on How Much Time it Takes to Improve Credit Score; Janury 2008
- "Kiplinger"; What to Make of Your Credit Score; Elizabeth Razzi; October 2004
- Financial Web: Improve Your Credit Score with a Rapid Rescore
- myFICO: How to Repair Your Credit and Improve Your FICO Credit Score
Russell Huebsch has written freelance articles covering a range of topics from basketball to politics in print and online publications. He graduated from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.