You Ask. Bev Answers: How Often Do Credit Card Companies Report to the Credit Bureaus?
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In a time of great uncertainty, a voice of knowledge and reassurance can make all the difference. Beverly Anderson, President of Global Consumer Solutions at Equifax, answers your questions based on her years of experience in the consumer finance industry. You can post a question for Bev on Equifax's Facebook page. Bev regrets that she cannot answer every question individually.
Question: How often do credit card companies report to the nationwide credit bureaus?
As with many areas of personal finance, the answer to this question depends heavily on the credit card you use and your unique financial situation — reporting times vary from card to card.
If a creditor decides to report to one of the three nationwide credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), there are guidelines that they must follow. They should report monthly, preferably on the billing cycle date. For credit card companies, this is usually the day that they issue your charges for the most recent billing cycle, also known as your statement date. For most companies, these dates are spread throughout the month so that they don't have to produce every customer's statement on the same day.
For example, if a credit card company has 25 billing cycles, they could send 25 files to the nationwide credit bureaus each month. Smaller companies may only send one file a month that contains all accounts in their portfolio but only includes data as of the statement date. Some credit card companies will report your information in the middle of the month, while others do their reporting at the end of the month. Ultimately, however, there's no set day, time and frequency credit card companies have to report, as long as they meet the general guidelines.
Creditors are not legally obliged to report at all. It's a voluntary practice, so it's up to them to decide when and how often they do it. This also means that some companies report to all three nationwide credit bureaus, while others only report to one or two, and others may not report at all.
Additionally, credit card companies will typically not report when you are a day or two late on your payment. However, it can be beneficial to your credit scores to have a lower balance when your payments are reported. Consider setting up automatic online payments so that whenever your creditors choose to report, your balances are as low as they can be.
Credit card companies don't always disclose the specifics of their reporting policies, making it difficult to know precisely when a payment will be factored into your credit scores. You can call your credit card company to ask when they report, or you might consider signing up for a credit-monitoring service that will notify you as soon as your creditors report your balances.
The three nationwide credit bureaus generally update your account as soon as they receive new information, meaning your credit scores can change often and suddenly. However, in general, you shouldn't panic if you make a payment and your credit scores don't immediately change.
At the end of the billing cycle, when many credit companies report, there can be a big fluctuation in your credit scores all at once. If your scores are still unchanged after about a month, check with your creditors to confirm that they've reported your status to one or more of the nationwide credit bureaus. If you anticipate buying a home or making another large purchase in the near future, it's a good idea to begin paying down your balances a few months before you plan on applying for a loan or line of credit to ensure that your credit scores will reflect a good payment history.
Beverly Anderson is the President of Global Consumer Solutions at Equifax. She is responsible for the strategy, development, growth and profitability of direct and indirect businesses serving consumers with credit, identity and financial education products and services.
For more than three decades, Beverly has built businesses and delivered significant results in the financial services and payments industries. She drove consumer and small business strategies, product strategies, and enterprise growth and profitability strategies for First USA (now JPMorgan Chase), Fleet (now Bank of America) and American Express. Before joining Equifax, she was the Executive Vice President of Cards and Retail Services at Wells Fargo where she led consumer credit cards, co-branded cards, loyalty solutions, retail finance, digital payments and enablement capabilities. She has also held leadership roles managing auto loans, personal lines and loans, servicing, loan operations, collections and fraud operations. https://www.equifax.com/about-equifax/corporate-leadership/beverly-anderson/