When you’re applying for a large loan like a home loan, a small increase in your credit score, and consequently, your interest rate, can potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars over the loan term.
Working with creditors on your own, the positive actions you take today can take a month or longer to show up in your credit reports. But lenders (and sales contracts) have deadlines, and credit scores available to your lender today will be based on the information currently shown in your credit files.
If you can’t meet your financing deadline with the rate you want (or if rates move higher while you wait), you’ll have to make some difficult choices. Fortunately, a rapid rescore allows you to get your credit reports updated and your score increased quickly—in some cases within a few days.
Basics of Rapid Rescoring
A "rapid rescore" is a service that lenders use to get recent updates to your account history reflected in your credit reports in an accelerated time frame. Instead of waiting for information in your credit reports to be updated by the next billing cycle, you can have that information updated with the help of your lender within days.
The goal of the service is to improve the information in your credit history and thereby obtain a higher credit score, which is why lenders generally recommend the service when your existing credit score is a few points shy of what you need to get a lower interest or more favorable loan terms. By removing negative items, reducing loan balances, and fixing errors, you can improve your chances of getting approved for a low-cost loan.
Rapid rescoring isn’t something you can do on your own. To use the service, you’ll need to have a lender (often the lender that you’re using to buy a home or refinance) request a rapid credit rescore on your behalf. Your lender has the information needed to determine if a quick update to your credit score will be helpful, as well as relationships with any third-party credit vendors that handle the logistics of updating your credit.
Examples of Rapid Rescores
Use these scenarios to get a sense of when a rapid rescoring is appropriate and how it can benefit your credit score and loan prospects.
Get a rapid rescore after taking steps to improve your score. Let's say that your mortgage broker uses a computer simulator to see that you have an opportunity to improve your credit. If you raise your score by 20 points, you’ll fall into a category of a borrower that pays a slightly lower interest rate. The simulator says you might accomplish this if you pay down your card balances so that you're using less than 30% of your credit limit. Even if you pay off your credit cards every month, your card issuer might take a snapshot when your balance is high, so the credit-scoring model thinks you’re maxing out your cards. If you’ve got the cash available, pay down your debts. Then, use rapid rescoring to submit updated information to the credit bureau and have it pushed to your credit report within a matter of days. When you request a new credit score from that bureau, you're more likely to obtain a higher score and get approved at a lower rate.
Ask for a rescore to remove erroneous negative items. When you apply for a mortgage, you might notice a serious error on your credit report. A lender reported that you failed to repay a loan, but you don’t recognize the loan. You could report the error yourself and get it removed fairly easily, but you are unwilling to wait (it could take over a month before your credit score goes up). Working with your mortgage lender, you can dispute the item, and your credit reports will be updated quickly. With the error removed, you'll end up with a higher, more accurate credit score.
The VantageScore and FICO scoring models consider a credit utilization ratio of 30% or less to be ideal.
Limitations of Rapid Rescoring
While this service allows you to update your credit reports quickly, it's important to understand its limitations, namely:
Accuracy Is Critical
Rapid rescoring expedites the process of updating your credit reports. However, the service only works if the information you provide is accurate because you only have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. So, if there’s an erroneous entry saying you defaulted on a loan, rapid rescoring can help get that information removed quickly. If you actually defaulted on the loan, you won’t get the negative item temporarily removed (it’s not a “trick” to improve your credit just long enough to get your loan approved).
It's Not Credit Repair
Rapid rescoring isn't credit repair—it’s just an express lane for getting information to credit bureaus. You can't dispute anything and everything that brings down your score (unless everything is inaccurate), and the service won't help you negotiate settlements with creditors. You'll need to take action to improve your credit legitimately and then get a rapid rescore to have those actions reflected in your credit reports and credit score quickly.
Expect Small Gains
If you need a substantial increase in your credit score, don’t put too much faith in a rapid credit rescore. Your credit score might only need a small bump to help you get approved with more favorable terms. That said, if you remove a serious error like a bankruptcy, you might see more dramatic results.
It's Only as Rapid as You Are
To have success with rapid rescoring, you may need to participate in the process. For example, if you’re late on payments, you can get current on them and use rapid rescoring, but you’ll need to come up with the money and get it to your lender before ordering an updated credit score. Likewise, you may need to dig up documentation to prove that accounts were paid off, and that takes time and effort—you can’t count on your lender to do all of the work for you.
Your Mileage May Vary
Rapid rescoring is often a successful strategy, but it can backfire or fail to produce the results you and your lender expect. In some cases, your credit score may drop if you take actions that hurt your credit before you request a rescore. Before moving forward, discuss the details with your lender (and ensure your lender has the experience and knowledge to give you the right advice).
Steer clear of scams by avoiding third-party rapid-rescoring companies that promise to quickly raise your score by disputing negative items that are correct. This isn't how rapid rescoring works, and legitimate lenders and companies will never make this pledge.
How to Use Rapid Rescoring
Rapid rescoring is a service that your lender requests on your behalf, so you'll need to ask your lender if you want to obtain a rapid rescore. You’ll need to have the ability to make a legitimate improvement to your credit reports. If you can do so, take the action needed to improve your score. Your lender will then submit proof of the update to the credit-reporting agency, which will update your credit reports in an accelerated time frame. The next time you request your score, it should be higher.
If your lender isn’t aware that you have the ability to improve your credit in a meaningful way, you might need to bring this up yourself. Similarly, if your lender does not offer rapid rescoring, you’ll either have to wait for things to update the old-fashioned way or work with a different lender.
How Much a Rapid Rescore Costs
Lenders pay a fee to credit-reporting agencies to request updates to your credit reports, but the borrower typically doesn't pay a fee for the service. Under the FCRA, lenders aren't allowed to charge a fee to borrowers for disputing errors on a credit report. However, nothing is free—you'll pay for your lender’s capabilities in the interest rate and closing costs of the loan.
How Long It Takes
“Rapid” means different things to different people. Rescoring providers typically promise one- to five-day turnarounds. Realistically, expect the process to take a week—a reputable lender can provide more detailed guidance. In some cases, it'll take even longer before everything gets submitted and updated. It takes time to gather information, send payments, and mail documentation.
If rapid rescoring isn’t an option or isn't the right fit for your situation, consider other ways to improve your credit:
- Talk to multiple lenders: Different lenders have different criteria for approval and offer different services. It’s always a good idea to shop around. One lender might just offer rapid rescoring or approve you for an affordable loan with your current credit even if others won't or are unwilling to work with you.
- Pay off loans: Getting approved is often a matter of making sure your payments will be affordable. If you have cash on hand, pay off loans to reduce your monthly obligations (and improve your debt-to-income ratio). That alone might be enough to qualify for a good loan with some lenders.
Rapid rescoring can help you make quick fixes, but ideally, you'll have everything in order long before you apply for a loan. This way, you will have one less thing to worry about when you're in the middle of a complicated and stressful loan transaction.
Check your credit reports regularly, fix errors, and keep your credit card balances low so that there's nothing to fix the next time you apply for a loan.