Most people know that having a good credit score is critical. That’s because your credit score is one of the factors lenders use to determine how creditworthy you are. While taking steps to improve your credit score will help you in the long run, it’s admittedly a long process. It can often take months before you see any meaningful progress.
While these delays are normal, a quick change to your credit score could help you out significantly. That’s because a higher credit score could lead to lower interest rates or even more money that you can borrow when getting a mortgage. If you’re looking to improve your credit score, a rapid rescore might be worth considering.
What is rapid rescore?
A rapid rescore is when lenders use any new information available, such as debt repayment, to quickly recalculate your credit score. If your credit score increases, this could help you get a better mortgage.
Unfortunately, you can’t initiate a rapid rescore on your own. You would need to go through your lender to get one done. It’s also worth mentioning that a rapid rescore won’t fix or remove any negative information from your credit profile. All it does is update your credit history with the most recent information.
How does rapid rescore work?
Mortgage lenders can pay a fee to one of the three credit reporting bureaus - Experian, TransUnion and Equifax - to have your credit report updated. This rapid rescore gives lenders the most up-to-date information about a client's credit profile.
A rapid rescore is relevant since credit scores typically take some time to update. Even if you’ve taken steps to improve your credit score, it won’t boost your credit score right away. However, with a rapid rescore, your credit profile is updated, and a new credit score is assigned in a short period of time.
Since your lender will have updated information, they can reevaluate your credit score/profile to determine what kind of loan terms you’d qualify for.
When Does a Rapid Rescore Make Sense?
A rapid rescore would make sense if a potential mortgage lender recommends it. For example, let’s say your current credit score is just below the threshold for you to qualify for a better interest rate. In this case, getting a rapid rescore would likely be worth it since it can have a major impact on your loan.
That said, doing a rapid rescore doesn’t automatically increase your credit score; you need to do something that would actually improve things. For example, let’s say you have some outstanding debt. If you were to pay some of it off, that could lower your credit utilization ratio. In turn, your credit score may increase if a rapid rescore was performed.
Rapid rescores only make sense if you need a loan, and a small increase in your credit score could improve your terms or approval. If you don’t need a loan, then getting a rapid rescore is unnecessary.
It’s also worth mentioning that a rapid rescore shows all recent changes to your credit history. So, if you’ve applied for new credit or missed a payment, the rapid rescore could decrease your credit score.
How long does a rapid rescore take?
In most cases, rapid rescoring takes about three to five business days to complete. That said, it depends on your situation and how quickly your lender gets the process started.
Even though a rapid rescore only takes a few days, you want to practice good credit habits before you even apply for a mortgage. By doing this, your credit score may increase naturally, so there may not even be a need for a rapid rescore.
How much does a rapid rescore cost?
Rapid rescoring typically costs US$25 to $40 per credit bureau. Since there are three credit bureaus, you’re looking at a total of US$75 to $120. It’s worth noting that most mortgage lenders and/or brokers will pay that fee for their clients if they end up getting approved and taking a mortgage with them.
Is a rapid rescore worth it?
In the end, you should speak to your mortgage lender to determine if a rapid rescore is worth it. Since your credit score is just one factor that determines how creditworthy you are, they’ll be able to advise if it’s worth it or not.
In most cases, if a small increase in your credit score will give you better mortgage terms, then getting a rapid rescore is worth it. Waiting for your credit score to go up naturally could take months, but with a rapid rescore, it’ll be just a few days. That said, if you’re already getting the best terms available, then getting a rapid rescore won’t make a difference.
Alternatives to rapid rescoring
Rapid rescoring is useful in specific situations, but there are some additional ways you can increase the odds of you getting approved for a mortgage or getting better terms.
Shop around: If you haven’t done so already, shop around to see if you can get a better interest rate and/or terms from a different lender. This is possible because every lender uses different criteria when determining how creditworthy you are. In addition, some lenders may have lower advertised rates than what you’re being offered from your current lender.
Play the long game: Improving your credit score normally takes time, so take some action now, and you’ll see a gradual improvement. Try to reduce your debt and credit utilization ratio to help improve your credit score.
Delay your purchase: If you delay your home purchase, that could allow you to save more money for your down payment. Since you won’t need to borrow as much money, some lenders may offer you more favourable terms.
Are rapid rescores available in Canada?
Unfortunately, rapid rescores are not available in Canada. This often surprises people since Equifax and TransUnion, two of the credit bureaus that offer rapid rescores in the United States, also operate in Canada.
To build your credit history in Canada, you need to do things the traditional way. That means using credit responsibly and letting your credit score increase over time.
For those interested in building their credit score, KOHO may appeal to you. Even though KOHO is a prepaid card, they have a credit building service. For a low monthly fee, KOHO will open up a line of credit that’s dedicated to credit building. All you need to do is choose an amount to set aside from your line of credit, and KOHO will report that amount as an on-time payment to Equifax. After a few months, you should see your credit score increase.
The bottom line
The reality is that a rapid rescore will only help a handful of people in the United States that are looking for a new mortgage or need to refinance. That’s because their current credit score would need to be just below the threshold for better terms, and they would need to have the means to do something immediately that could potentially improve their credit score.
For those in Canada, a rapid rescore is not an option. Instead, you’d want to focus on things that will help you improve your credit score. That said, don’t forget that there are government incentives such as the Tax-Free First Home Savings Account and First Time Home Buyer Incentive that can help you achieve homeownership sooner. Plus, if you’re getting an insured mortgage, where your down payment is less than 20%, you’ll often be offered lower interest rates from your lender.
Barry Choi is an award-winning personal finance and travel expert. He regularly appears on various shows in Canada and the U.S., where he talks about all things money and travel. His website - Money We Have - attracts thousands of visitors daily, looking for the latest stories on travel and money.