positive changesIf you are keeping an eye on your credit reports and scores and trying to make positive changes, you might be wondering how long it will take for actions such as paying a loan in full or reducing your credit utilization ratio by opening a new credit card to be reflected. Whether you’re working to improve your credit in general, or want to boost it for a specific purpose such as getting approved for a mortgage, understanding the process of how different actions affect your credit reports and scores can help reduce some of the stress. There’s a lot of solid information available about how negative items are reported as well as how long they remain on your credit reports, but it can be murky as to when changes are actually made to your credit reports. If you’re wondering why, the answer is quite simple.

The timing of reporting positive changes is up to each creditor

Before you start worrying about how something will impact your credit report, you’ll want to make sure you have a general understanding of what is and isn’t reported to your credit reports. Once you’ve confirmed this change will have an impact on your credit, you can consider timing. In general, any positive actions made by you with your creditors (as well as negative events, such as an account going to collections or defaulting on a loan) will be reported to the credit bureaus on the creditors’ timeline. Ideally, you should see a reflection of any actions you’ve taken on your credit reports within 30 days — however, not all creditors report to the bureaus within that time frame (and not all creditors report to all three bureaus, so you might not even see it if you’re only looking at Equifax but not TransUnion and Experian, for example). As such, you should expect changes to appear on your credit report(s) within a maximum of 90 days — it really just depends on when your creditors report the change to the bureaus. If you haven’t seen any updates within a month or so, you will want to make sure that you follow up with creditors to ensure that they’ve reported your payments as well as ask about a time frame. While they may not be able to give you an exact number of days, they should be able to provide you with a general timeline.

It’s also important to remember that paying off an item that’s been reported as delinquent on your credit reports already won’t have the same effect as paying down your credit card balance or paying off a loan that has never gone into default. Read this blog post to learn more about how long negative items remain on your credit reports.

How can I find out when changes are made?

If you are planning to take out a mortgage or purchase a new car and want to make sure your credit is in good standing, it’s a wise idea to check out your credit reports at least six months prior to when you plan to take action. This will give you time to look for any possible errors and get them corrected — and give your creditors plenty of time to report any positive changes — before your bank or creditor performs an inquiry on your credit. Although you are entitled to one free copy of all three of your credit reports every 12 months from the government-sponsored AnnualCreditReport.com website, you don’t get access to your credit scores for free (at this time), and once a year probably isn’t enough if you are actively working to make improvements on your credit.

Signing up for a credit report monitoring service that provides continual access to your credit reports and scores as well as alerts when a change — positive or negative — is detected is a good solution. Many of these services offer free trials, so you can sign up and test the service out before making a financial commitment. What’s more, most of the top-rated credit monitoring services also include identity theft protection features, which is key in today’s world with data breaches happening right and left.

Want to know more about your credit? Follow our credit report monitoring blog for tips and articles.