Credit scores can be quite confusing and there are numerous myths surrounding them. Let’s delve into some common misconceptions about credit scores and shed light on the reality behind them.
Myth 1. Checking your credit score lowers it.
Truth: Rest assured that checking your own credit score is considered a “soft inquiry” and has no impact on your credit score. Only “hard inquiries” made by lenders when you apply for credit can have a minor effect.
Myth 2. Closing old credit accounts will enhance your score.
Truth: Contrary to popular belief, closing old credit accounts can actually harm your credit score. It reduces both your overall available credit and the length of your credit history, both of which play a role in determining your score.
Myth 3. Carrying a balance on your credit card boosts your score.
Truth: Carrying a balance doesn’t directly influence your credit score. However, consistently making timely payments and keeping the utilization of your credit card low (using only a small percentage of the available limit) are positive factors for maintaining a good score.
Myth 4. Your income affects your credit score.
Truth: It’s important to note that your income does not factor into calculating your credit score. Credit reporting agencies do not consider salary or employment status as determinants of one’s creditworthiness.
Myth 5. Having a bad credit history will haunt you forever.
Truth: Although negative information, such as late payments or defaults, can stay on your credit report for several years, its impact on your credit score diminishes over time. By establishing positive credit habits, you can work towards improving your score.
Myth 6. Opening multiple credit accounts within a short period boosts your score.
Truth: Applying for several credit accounts in a short span of time can have a negative effect on your credit score. It may indicate to lenders that you are facing financial difficulties and pose a higher risk in terms of credit.
Myth 7. Credit scores are the same across all credit bureaus.
Truth: There are multiple credit bureaus, each with slightly different information and scoring models. Consequently, your credit score can vary between these bureaus.
Myth 8. Only debt related information impacts your credit score.
Truth: In addition to debt related factors, payment history for bills like utilities and rent (if reported) and public records like bankruptcies or tax liens can also influence your overall credit scores.
Myth 9. Settling a debt will automatically remove it from your credit report.
Truth: Settling a debt for less than the full amount owed will not erase it from your credit report. While settling a debt may update the status to “settled,” the negative history of the account will still remain on your credit report for a specific period.
Myth 10. Good credit behavior can quickly erase past mistakes.
Truth: Building good credit habits takes time. Consistently making on time payments and practicing positive actions will gradually improve your score, but significant improvements may require months or even years.
By understanding these truths, you can make informed decisions about managing and enhancing your credit score. It’s crucial to stay knowledgeable about credit in order to maintain a healthy financial profile.