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Can’t find a credit card account on your credit reports? It could be because the lender doesn’t report credit activity, or simply the result of a reporting error. Contacting the issuer for an explanation is a good place to start.
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“John, I have a credit card that is not appearing on my credit report. How can I get the account added?”
The short answer is that there isn’t much you can do to get an account added to your credit reports. Creditors are not required to report credit card accounts on your credit reports. It’s their legal right to report to any or all of the major credit bureaus, but there’s no reason they have to. This is also why you may notice that not all of your credit accounts are reflected on all three of your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports.
So while not seeing an account reflected on a report is possible, it doesn’t mean there’s an error. You could ask the creditor to report your accounts, but if they don’t regularly report accounts it’s unlikely they will for you.
Usually, you’ll see these types of debt-related accounts on your credit report: loans and lines of credit related to your mortgage, auto, student or personal loans, credit, gas and charge cards, accounts that have gone to collections (including unpaid medical bills), and certain public records, like bankruptcies. What types of information won’t typically appear in your credit file or impact our credit history? Utilities, cable, and cell phone accounts, and insurers.
You’re also unlikely to see other public records, such as tax liens and judgments, on your credit reports as a result of policy changes among the nation’s consumer credit reporting bureaus. It’s not illegal for these items to be reported, however, so don’t rule out the possibility that you’ll see them on your reports in the future.
While it may sound unfair that you pay your bills and get none of the “credit” of your positive financial behavior reflected on your credit report, the fact of the matter is that reporting is up to the creditor. Some financial institutions simply don’t want to incur the costs associated with providing accurate credit information to the bureaus, and responding to disputes. Others may want to protect customer data from competitors.
There are a few main reasons your credit card might not appear on your credit reports, including:
Nervous about a newer credit card that hasn’t shown up on your credit reports? Fear not — it may simply be too soon. Credit cards don’t pop up on your reports the moment you’re approved. It can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days for your new account’s credit activity to be reported to the credit bureaus. It’ll usually happen after the first billing cycle comes to a close.
Whether omitted credit activity impacts your creditworthiness depends on your objectives and financial situation. In the case of a home loan application, for example, lenders know that your credit reports vary by bureau. Typically, they’ll consider these variances in the bureau information and related credit score for balanced decision-making, often by taking the average, or “middle score,” for example.
You can ask the credit bureau, or the lender, to report the information to the bureau(s), but ultimately it’s their choice. Your best bet as a consumer is to be informed. Ask lenders which credit bureaus they report to before you open the line of credit, if their reporting practices are a key factor to your objectives. This is the best way to ensure that your payment history and responsible management of a credit obligation is reported to the credit reporting agencies.
Most consumers don’t realize that you can ask a lender if they choose to report their information to the credit bureaus. It’s not a huge secret, and most of them will gladly tell you if they report and to whom they report account information.
That said, don’t disregard your obligation to make on-time payments to lenders who don’t report. If you fail to make payments and your past due account becomes delinquent and gets turned over to a collections agency, they may indeed report to the bureaus. This negative information could appear on your credit report for the next seven years. There’s no language in any federal law, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, that requires a lender to report anything to the credit reporting agencies.
Learn what’s in your credit report here.
John Ulzheimer is a recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. He is a credit blogger for Credit Card Insider, CreditSesame, Mint, and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. John is twice Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) certified by the credit reporting industry’s trade association and has been an expert witness in over 140 cases involving credit issues. Formerly of FICO and Equifax, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.
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