When do credit card companies report to credit bureaus?

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In a Nutshell

Credit bureaus (or credit reporting agencies) usually receive reports about your credit card balances on your statement closing date. But different credit reporting bureaus may update at different speeds and frequencies, which makes it hard to know when you’ll see a change to your credit scores.
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When do credit card companies report to credit bureaus?

It’s helpful to know when your credit card activity gets reported so you can keep track of how it affects your credit scores. Read on to learn more about when credit card companies report to credit bureaus — and why it’s important.

When do credit card companies report to credit bureaus?

One reason there’s so much confusion about when credit card companies report to credit bureaus is that there’s no clear-cut, universally applicable answer (annoying, we know).

The good news? There are trends to look at that can help inform us as consumers.

“Your balances are normally reported to credit bureaus on your statement [closing] date,” says Tina Endicott, vice president of marketing and business development at Partners Financial Federal Credit Union. “However,” she notes, “it may take a few days or even a week for the bureau to update your information.”

This may depend on the bureau. Different bureaus may update at different speeds and frequencies.

And while you can generally expect that your credit card activity will be reported to the bureaus at the end of your billing cycle, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

“How often credit card companies report to the nationwide consumer reporting agencies depends on the [company],” explains Nancy Bistritz-Balkan, former director of public relations and communications at credit bureau Equifax.

“It can be anywhere from quarterly to daily for an individual consumer’s information, depending on the choices and practices of the lender or creditor,” she says. “Most lenders and creditors [i.e. credit card companies] report information at least once a month.”

The problem with credit reporting

Looking to establish your credit history or boost your credit scores before buying a house or making a large purchase? You’ll want to make sure your positive credit history is reported.

But here’s the thing: Not all lenders report your activity to credit bureaus. If they do, they might not report to all three of the major credit bureaus, either. Credit reporting is a voluntary practice, and credit card companies don’t always reveal which credit bureaus they report to. Some companies, like Capital One, explicitly state that they report your credit standing to the three major credit bureaus. Others may not reveal that information so openly.

All in all, it’s best to keep your credit in good standing across the board. You can do this by making on-time payments in full and keeping your balances low.

Why knowing when credit card companies report to credit bureaus is important

Knowing when credit card companies report to credit bureaus can clear up some confusion you may have with your credit reports. Have you ever checked your credit reports and seen a balance, but you know you pay off your card every month in full?

This is likely because credit card companies provide a snapshot of your current balance when they report to the credit bureaus.

So, if you’re concerned about how this snapshot of your balance may affect your credit, consider keeping tabs on your spending by your statement closing date. You could also make a payment before your statement closing date, so your balance is lower when it’s reported. Keeping a low balance can help your credit overall.

Why? Because when it comes to your credit scores, one important factor is your credit utilization.

A quick note on credit utilization

Credit utilization refers to how much of your total available credit you use at any given time. Being mindful of your credit utilization rate (your total credit card balances divided by your total credit card limits) and paying down debt can be a good move.

“One way to improve your credit is to pay down revolving debt, such as credit cards,” says Endicott.

You may pay down your debt and not see an improvement right away. Before applying for any new credit, you may want to make sure your lower balances are reflected on your credit. Keep in mind that many factors determine your credit scores, and paying down your revolving debt doesn’t guarantee higher scores.

Learn more about credit card utilization and your credit scores

What you can do

If you’re concerned about your credit utilization in relation to credit reporting, you might consider asking your credit card issuer for a higher credit limit. Having more credit available — and not using as much — may help boost your credit. Just be sure to do your research first. And keep in mind that having more available credit could actually hurt your scores if it tempts you to rack up more debt.

Additionally, you can make multiple payments throughout the month to lower your overall balance. That way, when the balance is reported to the bureaus, your credit utilization is in good shape.

If you want to get a better handle on your credit, you can always check your credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion on Credit Karma and dispute any errors you see.

Bottom line

If you’re curious about when credit card companies report to credit bureaus, now you have a better idea.

Regardless of the timeline, there are some things you can do to keep your credit scores in good shape.

“It’s so important to establish healthy credit habits, and that starts with paying your bills on time, every time,” says Bistritz-Balkan.

And check your credit reports regularly so that you can see where you stand and ensure there are no errors. Doing so can help you avoid any trouble and ensure you’re on the right financial path.

About the author: Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer and editor currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy and empowering people to take control of their finances. Her work has been f… Read more.