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Why your credit score hasn’t changed

Don't worry, you're not the only one wondering why your credit score hasn't changed. Check out these six reasons and start taking action today!

04 June 2019Lucy Burgess 6 min read
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Image by Derick Anies on Unsplash

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One of the most important things that you can do is keep an eye on your credit score to track and improve your financial progress. But what does it mean if your credit score hasn’t changed in the last while?

Your credit score can help you understand how lenders view you, which is a useful insight if you’re applying for credit any time soon. Checking your credit score can help you track how you’re doing financially. But if your credit score hasn’t changed, it can be equally useful to understand why.

Your credit report is a record of all of your borrowing behaviours. This information gets stored for around six years and is updated every month. So, you might think that if your report changes regularly, your credit score will change too. But this isn’t necessarily the case.

Typically, if your credit score hasn’t changed, it’s because nothing in your report has changed. Even if the information in your report has changed, it won't always reflect a change to your score.

1. Information in your credit report hasn’t changed enough to alter your score.

A credit reference agency calculates your credit score using all of the information in your credit report and considers how this will look to a lender (i.e., if you're a high or low-risk person to lend to). For example, if your credit report shows you're a low-risk person to lend to, you're likely to have a higher credit score.

Even though your credit report gets updated every month, it doesn’t mean your score will always change. Any changes that have taken place may not affect how lenders view you overall (i.e., your level of risk, in the eyes of a lender, remains the same).

So, sometimes a small update to your credit report will mean that your credit score hasn’t changed.

2. Changes to a credit report affect each individual differently

Missing a single payment or making a credit application will affect each individual’s credit score differently because it will depend on what else is going on in their credit report.

So, if you miss a payment but have a good credit history, it is not as likely to lower your score as it would if you have a history of poorly managing your debt. It all depends on how your report looks overall.

Equally, if you have several negative factors, adding a single positive factor may not have enough individual impact to boost your score immediately. But it can still make a difference in the long run.

The more positive steps you take, the more you are laying the groundwork for a stronger score in the future. If you use your credit card once and pay it off, it may not immediately impact your score. But if you keep paying off your bills in full every month, it proves to lenders that you are consistently reliable, which is likely to impact your score positively in the future.

3. Improving your credit score takes time

Your credit score improves steadily over time. You may not always get to see a satisfying boost month on month. Lenders tend to prefer to see a long-term pattern of dependable behaviour. All the changes to your report help to build an overall picture of what kind of borrower you are. Which means it can take some time for your score to increase.

You’ll need to consistently show the behaviour to prove it’s not simply a once-off occurrence.

So, taking steps to improve your score will help improve the overall health of your credit report and add to your standing with lenders. Lenders will look at your whole report and not just your score when deciding whether or not to lend to you.

The positive information in your report can still be worthwhile, even if your credit score hasn’t changed.

4. Some lenders may like to see diversity in your credit report

This is all about the types of credit products and accounts you have and is one reason your score may stay the same for long periods.

If the number of credit accounts and your use of credit stayed the same, your score could also remain relatively stable. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing – but it’s good to be aware of it.

If you have only one credit card that you have had for years, and nothing else changes on your report, your score may not change that often. This is because nothing is changing that significantly from month to month.

5. Errors or inaccuracies in your credit report

Errors or inaccuracies logged in your credit report can significantly impact your credit score. In some cases, your credit score hasn’t changed due to incorrect information reported by credit bureaus.

This could be because of mistakes made by credit bureaus when collecting data about you, or it may occur if credit accounts are incorrectly combined. Lenders rely on the credit reports provided by credit bureaus, and therefore an error or inaccuracy can lead to inaccurate assessments of an individual’s creditworthiness.

To ensure that your credit score is not affected by errors in your credit report, you should regularly monitor your credit report for any discrepancies and contact the appropriate credit bureau if you notice any issues. Take charge of your credit report with our 5-minute monthly checklist.

6. Updates can take time to show up

The last reason why your credit score hasn’t changed deals with how your credit score gets calculated. Your credit score gets calculated by a credit reference agency (CRA). Each CRA is sent information by lenders about your credit and how you manage it. Lenders will typically send information to the CRAs once a month – and for some public records offices, it will be longer.

However, exactly when lenders and other organisations do this is up to them. If your information is sent to a credit reference agency after ClearScore pulls your monthly report, that change won’t show until your next report. For example, it can take 4-6 weeks for new account information to show up on your report as Experian waits for the information from the lender. If the information is more than six weeks out of date you can raise a dispute.

Improving your credit score can take some time and effort. These simple steps could help improve it if your credit score hasn’t changed.

1. Check your credit report regularly

One of the best ways to improve your credit score is to check your credit report regularly. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

Checking your credit report will help you catch any errors or inaccuracies dragging down your score. ClearScore provides your credit score and report for free: Sign up.

2. Pay your bills on time

Paying your bills on time is one of the main factors in determining your credit score. If you have difficulty remembering to pay your bills on time, you can set up automatic payments through your bank.

3. Keep your credit use low

Credit utilisation is the percentage of your available credit used at any given time. For example, if you have a credit limit of R20,000 and a balance of R10,000, your credit utilisation would be 50%. It’s good to keep your credit utilisation as low as possible. One way to do this is by paying off your balances in full each month.

4. Use a mix of different types of credit

Having a mix of different credit accounts can also help improve your score. It shows lenders that you can manage different types of debt responsibly. Some examples of different types of credit include revolving accounts (e.g., credit cards) and installment accounts (e.g., auto loans).

5. Keep old accounts open

Closing old accounts can hurt your score, so it’s generally best to keep them open even if you don’t use them anymore. Closing an account will shorten your average account age, which is a factor in determining your score. Additionally, keeping old accounts open and active can help increase your credit limit, lowering your credit utilisation ratio.

6. Avoid opening too many new accounts at once

Opening too many new accounts in a short time can also hurt your score by increasing the amount of new debt that you have and lowering the average age of all your accounts

Think of your credit score as just the tip of the iceberg. While this stays steady, little things can still be changing underneath in your credit report. That’s why it’s good to Log in and check your credit report, even if your credit score hasn’t changed

Lucy Burgess Image

Written by Lucy Burgess

Global Content Manager

Lucy has a wealth of personal finance knowledge, and is one of our in-house experts.