What makes your TransUnion score go down?
Why your credit score dropped
Don’t panic if you see that your credit score dropped. Your credit score can take a dip for many reasons.
Reasons for a credit score drop
This list of 11 reasons why your credit score might drop isn’t exhaustive. But it does include the main reasons why your score could decrease.
Credit usage increase
Your percentage of credit used, also referred to as your credit utilization ratio, has a high impact on your credit score in any scoring model (Chase Credit Journey uses the VantageScore® 3.0 model). Credit utilization is your total credit card balance in relation to your credit limit. Most experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30%, but the lower that number is, the better.
Missed or late payment
Your payment history has an impact in the VantageScore® 3.0 model. Making a late payment or missing a payment on any of your credit accounts, be it a credit card, student loan or mortgage, can be a detriment to your credit score — not to mention the fees you’ll endure. Your credit score represents your creditworthiness, or your ability to repay your debt. Missing a payment or making a late payment indicates that you may not be financially responsible.
The best way to avoid making late or missed payments is to set up autopay.
Drastic drops to your credit report
If you see a really drastic drop in your credit score, you’ve likely experienced some type of major derogatory mark. These can include:
- Account in collections
- Tax lien
- Civil judgment
- Debt settlement
If one of these comes up in your credit report, you should manage this as soon as possible. You should especially prioritize the derogatory mark if you don’t recognize it as that could indicate identity theft.
Closed credit account
Closing a credit account can have a negative impact on your credit score. Generally, you’re better off keeping the account open and using it sparingly rather than closing it. The age of your credit history has a moderate impact on your VantageScore® 3.0. Closing an account, especially your oldest account, will lower the average age of your credit accounts.
Paid off a student loan or car loan
Paying off any loan is an achievement that’s worth celebrating. But the types of credit you have also are considered high impact on your VantageScore® 3.0. This means having a good mix of credit between revolving debt (like credit cards) and installment debt (like loans). If you pay off the only loan you have, that affects the diversity of your accounts.
Applied for a new loan, credit card or mortgage recently
Applying for a new loan, credit card or mortgage likely will lead to a hard credit inquiry, also known as a credit check. One hard inquiry isn’t much to worry about, but if you apply for several credit card accounts at once, the hard inquiries could pile up. Recent credit is considered low impact on the VantageScore® 3.0 model.
A mistake in your credit report
Errors happen. If a number is transposed incorrectly (for example, if two digits were swapped) or payment is recorded to the wrong account or an on-time payment was reported late, that can hurt your credit score. Monitoring your credit report frequently to catch mistakes is key. And if there’s an inaccuracy, make sure to dispute it.
If you notice a drop in credit score that you can’t explain there is a chance you’re a victim of identity theft. If you see an unfamiliar address or other unrecognizable information in your credit report, make sure to flag it. Our identity theft tool kit (PDF) can provide you with information on who to contact and how to file a report.
Someone else used your credit card
The “someone else» using your credit card doesn’t necessarily have to be a stranger. Have kids? A spouse? A roommate? Someone you know could’ve potentially used your credit card without you knowing.
Cosigning a loan or credit card application
Cosigning a loan or credit card application doesn’t inherently affect your credit score. But if the person you cosigned for isn’t being responsible, your credit score could suffer. Make sure if you act as a cosigner for someone that you can trust them.
Credit limit was lowered
If your credit limit is lowered, that can affect your credit usage or credit utilization ratio, which in turn can hurt your credit score. Whether your credit limits are dropping or your balances are inflating, make sure to monitor your credit usage.
Why does your credit score drop when you check it?
Your credit score shouldn’t drop when you check it yourself. These pulls are typically soft inquiries, which don’t affect your credit score. If a lender or creditor checks your credit score, that may lower it.
Hard credit inquiries, or hard pulls, do affect your credit score. These happen when a lender or credit card issuer pulls your credit to determine whether to extend credit to you. In this case, you should be aware and consent to the pull.
Factors that impact your credit score
The VantageScore® 3.0 scoring model is made up of six factors:
- Payment history
- Credit history
- Credit usage
- Total balances
- Recent credit
- Available credit
Using the VantageScore® 3.0 model, those factors create a score ranging from 300 to 850, with 300 being deficient and 850 being excellent.
Ways to improve your credit score
There are several ways to improve your credit . Some will take longer than others to have an effect, but give these a shot:
- Make your monthly payments on time
- Lower your overall debt
- Don’t use credit for purchases you can’t afford
- Don’t apply for credit cards unnecessarily
Getting your credit report and credit score
Credit bureaus in Canada may collect different information about how you’ve used credit in the past. Requesting your own credit report has no effect on your credit score. Learn more about credit report and score basics.
Get your credit report online
You can access your credit report online for free from Equifax and TransUnion. Accessing your credit report online allows you to see it right away. Other companies may also offer to provide your credit report for free. Equifax allows you to access your credit report online and updates it monthly. Access your free Equifax credit report. TransUnion allows you to access and download your credit report (called Consumer Disclosure) online and updates it monthly. Access your free TransUnion credit report (Consumer Disclosure).
Get your credit report by mail
Equifax allows you to request your credit report online for postal delivery. You’ll receive it within 5 to 10 days. Request your free Equifax credit report.
Order by mail
Make your request using the forms provided by the two credit bureaus. Make a postal request with Equifax. Make a postal request with TransUnion. You will need to provide copies of two pieces of acceptable identification, such as a driver’s licence or passport.
Order by phone
Equifax allows you to request your free credit report by phone. Call the credit bureau and follow the instructions. Equifax Canada
Tel: 1-800-465-7166 You will need to confirm your identity by answering a series of personal and financial questions. You may also need to provide your Social Insurance Number and/or a credit card number to confirm your identity.
Get your credit report in person
Both credit bureaus allow you to request your free credit report in person. You’ll need to visit one of their locations and bring at least 2 pieces of identification. Learn more about requesting your free Equifax credit report in person. Learn more about requesting your free TransUnion credit report in person.
Get your credit score
Your credit score comes from the information in your credit report. It shows how risky it would be for a lender to lend you money. Learn more about how your credit score is calculated. You can access your credit score online from Canada’s 2 main credit bureaus. Your credit score from Equifax is accessible online for free and is updated monthly. If you live in Quebec, you can also access your credit score from TransUnion online for free. Access your Equifax credit score. Access your TransUnion credit score. Other companies may also offer to provide your credit score for free. Some may ask you to sign up for a paid service to get your score.
Protect yourself when getting your credit report or score
What is credit monitoring
Canada’s credit bureaus, as well as many credit card issuers and financial institutions, offer credit monitoring services. These services will notify you after certain updates have been made to your credit report and credit score, such as a credit inquiry. You could consider using this service if you think you’ve been the victim of fraud or if you’ve been affected by a data breach. This can help you see if somebody is trying to apply for credit in your name. You usually need to pay for these services. Some institutions may offer it for free under certain conditions.
How often you should check your credit report
Consider getting your credit report from one bureau, then wait six months before requesting it from the other bureau. That way, you may be able to detect problems sooner.
- Checking for errors in your credit report
- How long information stays on your credit report
- Improving your credit score
- Understanding your credit report
Why Did My Credit Score Go Down When Nothing Changed?
At a Glance: There are few inobvious reasons why your credit score may have gone down, including a hard inquiry, a closed account, or credit utilization above 30%.
You pay the same bills, use and pay off the same credit cards, and have the same number of loans every month. And yet, your credit score changes from month to month. You might be asking yourself: “Why did my credit score go down when nothing changed?”
A small variation in your credit score should be expected. If you see a big change in your credit score, you should investigate and find out why your score changed.
Below we detail some of the reasons your credit score might have changed.
Table of Contents
Can a Credit Score Drop Even if Nothing Changed on My Credit Report?
It can sometimes seem like your credit score fluctuates up or down even if you seemingly haven’t done anything to influence it.
Sometimes your score does change based on factors out of your control. For example, there are different scoring models for calculating your credit score based on your financial information. It is common to see differences in scores from one model to the next.
However, if you see a big drop in your score, it is usually triggered by something specific. Most times your behaviour influences your score in ways that may not be obvious.
Below are some common reasons why your credit score may go down when nothing has changed. This will give you an indication of what to look for on your credit report.
Why Did Your Score Change?
Your credit score gives lenders a sense of your debt-repayment history. Although different models are used to calculate your score, they all take the same financial behaviour into account. Your credit score is calculated based on your payment history, the amount of money you owe, the length of your credit history, the type of credit you have, and the new credit that has been added. A change in your score means one of those factors has changed.
Reported High Utilization
One of the factors that influence your credit score is your utilization of credit. Your utilization rate is the amount you owe on your credit card relative to your credit limit. If you are reported to have high utilization, you owe an amount of money close to your credit limit. Low utilization shows lenders that you are a responsible borrower and repay most or all of your purchases quickly. This will influence your credit score positively.
Did you make a large purchase on a credit card recently? Even if you paid it off quickly, there is a chance your lender reported this higher balance before you paid it off. If this is the case, your credit score should bounce back once the balance is reported as being paid off.
If you buy more stuff on credit, your utilization ratio will increase. But what if you have not increased your spending? Why did your credit score go down when nothing changed?
If you didn’t change the amount you owe, perhaps your credit card company has increased or decreased your total credit limit. If your spending habits remain the same, a decrease in your credit limit would increase your credit utilization ratio and harm your score. If your credit limit has recently altered, that will change your utilization ratio and affect your credit score even if nothing else has changed.
You Closed an Account
Closing a credit card account can affect your credit score in a couple of ways.
If you close one account, but still have a balance on other cards, closing your account can increase your credit utilization score. Even though your total debt remains the same, you have less available credit. Closing the account decreases your total credit limit. This means your current debt is higher relative to your new lower total credit limit and available credit balance.
Additionally, closing a long-running credit card account can impact your score differently. Generally speaking, the older the average age of your account, the better your score. Lenders like to see that you have accounts with a long history of on-time payments. If you close an account that’s been open for a long time, it can bring your credit score down.
Generally, you’ll be the one authorizing a credit card to close, but card companies can also close your account without your knowledge.
A New Hard Inquiry
A soft inquiry on your credit report can only be seen by you. They do not impact your credit score. A soft inquiry shows you or another company checked your report. A soft inquiry cannot be used to make a lending decision. It is usually for a background check or credit monitoring that you signed up for.
On the other hand, a hard inquiry is an inquiry on your credit report that is made with the intent to make a lending decision or offer you a contract. A hard inquiry can temporarily lower your credit score. If you’ve recently applied for a credit card or loan, the lender has probably made a hard inquiry on your credit report. Even though nothing has changed yet, your credit score can go down a bit as a warning to other lenders that you are considering other lending options.
If you feel that nothing has changed, you might be overlooking a hard inquiry from an account that is already on your report. For example, if you request a credit line increase for one of your existing credit cards, this could also trigger a hard inquiry.
There’s Been an Error
If you have gone through all of the reasons above and are still wondering “Why did my credit score go down when nothing changed?” then there might have been an error on your credit report.
Carefully read your credit reports again. You may have to dig for some clues. Make sure all of your open accounts are on there, and that there aren’t unauthorized accounts opened in your name. If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, speak to your lender and the police.
Lynette Khalfani-Cox, a personal finance expert also known as The Money Coach, explains that you have two options when it comes to filing a dispute on your credit report: “You can contact either the credit bureau, or you can contact the data furnisher (the company that provides information to each bureau). For a quicker response, the data furnisher may be your best option, but they aren’t legally obligated to pursue every type of dispute and most only accept disputes through the mail.”
Should You Worry About Changes to Your Credit Score?
Changes in your credit score are completely normal. There’s no need to worry about small fluctuations.
That being said, it’s good to check your credit report at least once a month so you can monitor these changes when they occur. Remember, a changing score means changing information. If you see a big change in your credit score, make sure you know what triggered it.
- How to Remove Paid Collections from a Credit Report
- How to Get Approved for a Cell Phone with Bad Credit
- How Many Points Will My Credit Score Increase When I Pay Off Collections?
- How to Check Your Credit Score Without an SSN
- How to Remove Late Payments from a Credit Report
- How Accurate is Credit Karma?
- Can You Be Denied a Job Because of Bad Credit?
If your credit score fluctuates from month to month you might be asking yourself: “Why did my credit score go down when nothing changed?”.
Your credit score might have gone down for a number of reasons.
Although slight fluctuations in your credit score are nothing to worry about, if you see a big change in your credit score, make sure you know what triggered it.
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I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.