Credit score

Why is my credit score constantly changing?

Image source: Getty Images

Your credit score is an important number – it tells lenders and credit card companies how risky a borrower you are, which helps them make decisions about lending money or accessing loans. lines of credit. A higher credit score sends the message that you are less at risk, while a lower score sends the message that a given lender or credit card issuer may want to proceed with caution before extending credit to you.

It’s a good idea to check your credit score before applying for a large loan, such as a mortgage. And generally speaking, it’s a good idea to know where your credit score is.

But if you regularly check your credit score, you may notice that the number fluctuates quite a bit. And if you have a bank account or credit card that notifies you of updates to your credit score, you might see that number change from month to month.

If you’re wondering what gives, fear not. Credit score changes are normal. And if they’re minor, there’s usually nothing to worry about. It’s only when your credit score deteriorates drastically that you need to start digging deeper.

Small changes can happen often

Different factors go into calculating your credit score. These include:

  • How punctual you are with bills
  • How much available credit you use at a time
  • How long have you had open credit accounts
  • How often do you apply for new credit cards

When you make payments on your credit cards or loans, this activity is reported to the credit bureaus, which can change your credit score, for better or for worse. Likewise, when you accumulate balances on your credit cards over your spending limit, that’s also on your record. And every time you open a new credit card account, that gets flagged, too.

Because paying bills, charging expenses, and opening new accounts are things you can do often (well, maybe not that often when it comes to the latter, but occasionally), it stands to reason that Your credit score can fluctuate from month to month. Suppose you have a larger credit card balance than you accumulated when unexpected bills arrived. If you manage to reduce it well a month later, your credit score could go up. And if that balance then increases the following month, your score could drop.

Also, when you apply for a new loan or a new credit card, it leads to a thorough investigation of your credit report. Further investigation may result in a small credit score – usually around five to 10 points – which could explain why your score is different from month to month.

When credit score changes are more significant

If you’re paying off a large balance on your credit card, it could give your credit score a nice boost. On the other hand, if you are late with a bill, it could lead to a substantial drop in your credit score.

In most cases, you shouldn’t be concerned if your score worsens from month to month by a margin of about five to 15 points. But if you see your score drop by 80 or 90 points, that’s no longer a problem. In this case, you will want to understand why your score took such a hit.

Perhaps you forgot an unpaid invoice that is more than 90 days overdue. This is the kind of thing that could cause a major drop in your credit score. And that’s also the kind of thing you’ll want to rectify as soon as possible.

Your conclusion, however, should be that small credit score changes are normal. It’s annoying to see your score drop a few points every once in a while, but if those drops are minor, they’re probably not worth losing any sleep over.

Alert: The highest cash back card we’ve seen now has 0% introductory APR through 2023

If you use the wrong credit or debit card, it could cost you dearly. Our expert loves this top pick, which includes a 0% introductory APR until 2023, an insane reimbursement rate of up to 5%, and all without annual fees.

In fact, this map is so good that our expert even uses it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Read our free review

We are firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are our own and have not been previously reviewed, approved or endorsed by the advertisers included. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. The editorial content of The Ascent is separate from the editorial content of The Motley Fool and is created by a different team of analysts. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.