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Constantly checking your credit score? Here's how often it updates

Credit scores are a key piece of your financial history. If you want to track your progress, here's how long you'll need to wait for your credit score to update.

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If you’re looking to buy a new home or take out an auto loan, you may be checking your credit score every day leading up to your application to see where it stands. But just because you check it often doesn’t mean there will be an update.

Credit scores refresh at different times throughout the month and there may be times where it takes a few days or weeks before your score updates. And even if you check it today and go to apply for a loan or credit card tomorrow, your score may change.

Here’s when you can expect your credit score to update and where to check your credit score for free.

How often your credit score updates

Credit scores continually go up and down as information on your credit report gets updated. New balance amounts, bill payments and account openings are only a few factors that appear on your credit report and influence your credit score.

You can generally expect your credit score to update at least once a month, but it can be more frequently if you have multiple financial products. Each time any one of your creditors sends information to any of the three main credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — your score may refresh.

That means your creditor may send updated information to Experian today, then Equifax next week, and TransUnion the following, which creates variations in your credit score.

Taking a look at my recent credit score updates through Experian’s free credit monitoring service, my score changed four times in October. The fluctuations were due to a new auto loan being reported on my credit report, as well as changes in my credit card balances.

Your credit score may also fluctuate when you check different credit score services that work with different credit bureaus. As stated above, the credit bureaus may receive information at varying times throughout the month, so if you check your scores with Experian and TransUnion today, they may differ if one has info the other doesn't.

Other reasons for credit score differences include the credit scoring model used (FICO® Score vs VantageScore®) and errors on your credit report.

How to check your credit score for free

There are dozens of resources available for you to check your credit score for free, but the type of score you receive varies between a FICO Score and VantageScore. While both are helpful for understanding the key factors that influence your credit history, FICO Scores are used in the majority (90%) of lending decisions.

The simplest way to access your free credit score is through your credit card issuer. Many card issuers provide their cardholders with free access to their FICO Score or VantageScore. Beyond your bank, consider free resources from Experian, Discover and Capital One.

Where to get your FICO Score for free

Where to get your VantageScore for free

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.