How long it takes to update credit file information

Posted by Jamie Mackenzie Smith in Credit Reports on 16 January 2018

Time is usually of the essence when applying for credit, so making sure your credit report is in good shape before the lender sees it can mean the difference between a quick and painless application and a lengthy, drawn-out process.

Chances are there might be bits and pieces of info on your credit report that could do with correcting or working on to give you the best chance of your application being accepted, but in some cases it can take a little while before the changes are reflected on your report and are visible to lenders.

The time it takes for your credit report to start showing changes can depend on a number of variables including what the changes are, right down to what time of year it is. If you’re planning to apply for a loan, but think that changes need to be made to the information on your report, make sure you give yourself enough time before submitting your application to let the changes take effect.

How and when are my credit agreements updated?

In most cases, credit account information is updated on your report by your lender on a monthly basis, including changes to your balance and credit limit, plus the crucial record of whether you made your most recent repayment on time. This means your credit report will only be updated with this information once it has been received by the lender, so it’s quite usual for account information to seem out-of-date.

Some smaller lenders may pass on the updated info less frequently, so it could take even longer for these accounts to update on your credit report.

Any credit accounts that show on your report as closed will still be reported by lenders each month until they are automatically removed - even if there aren’t any changes. The exception here is where an account is defaulted and closed by the lender with an outstanding balance. In this case, any payments made to reduce the balance by way of a repayment plan should be reflected. The same applies if the debt is passed to a collection agency, where a new agreement is effectively created.

How long Electoral Roll registration takes

Lenders see your electoral roll information as a key piece of information, so being registered to vote can make a big difference to your ability to get credit. You are free to register to vote at any time, but the time it takes before it appears on your credit report varies.

For most times of the year, you shouldn’t experience a gap of much more than a month between you registering to vote at an address and it appearing on your credit file. If you’ve registered to vote before mid-month (there’s some variation in this, so it’s not the same for each month), you’ll usually be included on the following month’s published electoral roll information.

This should be the case if you register to vote between the months of January and August, during the rolling registration period, however registering to vote after this time falls into the annual canvas, at which point no monthly updates are published until the start of the rolling registration starts again in January.

Annual Canvass

The Annual Canvass period runs from August to the end of December and sees all local councils pass updated information to the UK’s main credit reference agencies – who in turn update their own databases. As a result, if you’ve registered to vote at any time during this time period, it will not appear on your credit report until January/early February.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done to speed up this process and if you’ve just moved house and are thinking about applying for credit, this key piece of information may be missing from your report for a while, which could impact your score. Lenders will check what information is recorded at your previous addresses too, and so may well match you on the electoral roll there.

Your checkmyfile credit report will show you how each credit reference agency is reporting your electoral roll status at your current and previous addresses. If you do find that you aren’t recorded at your current address, it’s an important omission to rectify, starting by finding out if you are actually registered to vote at your current address with your local council.

Removing defaults, CCJs & Negative Information

For many people, waiting for a CCJ, Default or Bankruptcy to drop off their credit file is a big deal. Serious adverse information like this is very likely to cause you problems when applying for credit, and its removal could make a big difference to both the likelihood of being accepted, and the interest rate you’ll be asked to pay.

Most negative information is automatically removed from your credit file six years after it was first lodged. There might be a small additional delay while the change is actioned, meaning that it can take a further month for a marker to actually ‘drop off’ a credit report.

Bankruptcy is slightly more complicated. Most bankrupts in England and Wales are ‘discharged’ after one year, but the record of bankruptcy will remain on your credit file for six years. Should you not comply with the trustee and do not get discharged, the record of bankruptcy could remain indefinitely.

How long does a credit check itself take?

The time it takes for a lender to check your credit report varies: If you’re applying for a credit card, current account with an overdraft or in-store finance you’ll probably be told there and then whether your application has been successful.

In some cases, further checks or verification will mean a delay of a couple of days. If you’re applying for a bank loan it can take anything between a few minutes and a few days depending on your relationship with the lender.

The main reason for the difference in the time it takes to get an answer is that there are different levels of check depending on what you’re applying for and who you’re applying to. These days most applications are automated, which is a quick process, but should the credit check flag up a Cifas entry or Notice of Correction in your name, the application will need to be manually assessed before it can proceed, which will make the process take that much longer.

As a general rule, if you’re tidying your credit report in advance of making an application, it’s usually best to make sure that the changes have been implemented on your account before you apply as the amends will almost always take longer than you would think.

Make sure you’re seeing the Bigger Picture

It’s important to remember that each of the UK’s main credit reference agencies receive data from lenders and update their own databases separately, and so it’s quite common for information to differ, depending on which agencies data you look at. Lenders will also see those differences.

Only checkmyfile uses data from four agencies together in one easy-to-read credit report, allowing you to compare what’s held about you in each place, and making it easier to spot any errors or omissions. Should you spot anything that you think is wrong, our team of professionally-qualified Credit Analysts can not only give you expert advice, but in many cases, dispute the information on your behalf.

If you haven’t seen your checkmyfile credit report, you can try it free for 30 days then £14.99 a month and you can cancel at any time online, by phone or email.

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