When it comes to credit reporting and your credit score, there are a lot of numbers that are critical, but we often forget to focus on the various dates that coincide with your accounts. In fact, there are four important dates that show up on every credit report that play a big part of whether your score is on the rise or sinking like a stone. They are:

  • Date Opened
  • Date of Last Activity
  • Date Reported
  • Inquiry Date/Date of Request

We’ll define these dates here, and then explain how they may affect your credit score.

Date Opened/Open Date:
Simply put, this is the official date that each account or debt was first opened. This date can be very impactful into your credit score, as mature and well-seasoned accounts that have been open longer than 2 years, or even 4 years, are a big positive influence on your score. In fact, the age of your credit accounts is 15% of the factoring of your total score.

However, if an account is relatively new, or you opened several accounts recently, it could actually lower your credit score.

Preserving your longest-standing accounts to help your credit score should be a factor in how you manage your finances. For instance, paying off and closing your oldest credit card will effectively remove that positive influence on your credit, so it may be better just to pay it to zero or a very low balance and pay it off every month, not close it. But it’s interesting to note that even if a well-seasoned account is closed, it may continue to help your score for a while longer.

Date of Last Activity
Different credit reporting agencies might use different names, but the date of last activity documents when you last paid, or closed, an account. Since more recent items impact your credit score more significantly, accounts with a more recent date of last activity could hurt your score more than older accounts with the same blemishes. But the further you get from the date of last activity, that indiscretion should hurt your credit less and less.

So date of last activity is most relevant with events like credit cards that were charged off, auto loans that went to repossession, or mortgages that concluded with foreclosure. But one thing to remember is that paying one of these accounts off won’t change its date of last activity, so it won’t lower your credit score any more. “As far as the FICO Score is concerned,” FICO states, “the algorithm dates collections from when the debt was assigned to the collection agency.”

Report Date/Date Reported
With credit reporting and scoring, it doesn’t matter as much when you missed (or made) a payment in real life, but when that was reported to the credit bureaus, as only then it will factor into your scoring. So the report date is critical in determining what balances and activity are going to be reported and used to determine your most current score. Report dates document both current balances and credit limits.

Some credit scoring models use algorithims that only factor in accounts that were reported within a certain amount of months, or give lower scoring priority to accounts with older report dates. While this isn’t doesn’t usually exert a huge influence on your credit, it can make a big difference in certain situations, like when you’re applying for a mortgage and trying to bring your credit utilization or debt ratio down. Borrowers have actually been denied for a loan and lost their chance at a home because their report date didn’t jive with the information that needed to show in that credit cycle to be approved – even though they’d already paid down their accounts!

Inquiry Date/Date of Request
The specific date someone reviewed your credit, usually under the context of determining if they will approve you for a new loan, though it may also be a review for cell phone, utility, and other accounts that aren’t debt and won’t necessarily report on your credit. But the date a third party reviewed your credit may be a factor in your score depending on if it was a hard or soft inquiry. Basically, hard inquiries affect your score while soft inquiries do not.

Since all inquiries report for 24 months, the date the request was made is like hitting start on the clock until it no longer will be a factor. But with hard inquiries, which can impact your score, the credit scoring models usually stop paying them credence after only 12 months, so the inquiry date becomes even more notable.

But while the maturity or age of other credit accounts are factored into scoring models on a month-by-month basis, the amount of time an inquiry has been on your score – up to the time it no longer factors in – does not. So for instance, an 8-month old hard inquiry will not hurt your score more or less than an inquiry that is only 2 months old. But once they hit that 12-month mark (with most credit scoring models) they cease to be a factor at all.

We hope this explanation helps you understand the various dates that show up on your credit report. While they can play a significant role in determining your score, keeping your credit utilization low, always paying on time, and keeping a healthy mix of quality revolving and installment accounts are fundamental for building – and keeping – a great credit score.

Contact us if you have any questions about the dates listed on your credit report or any credit questions at all!