The below is a guest post kindly written by Patty Moore.
You can follow Patty and check out her own blog over at: Working Mother Life
Stop Believing These 5 Credit Score Myths
By Patty Moore, follow her @WorkMomLife
Many people are obsessed with their credit scores; yet very few really understand much about them other than how it affects their ability to get a loan or a credit card. Without question, credit scoring is a complex and convoluted, which not only makes it difficult to understand; it has led to many misconceptions that, if believed, could actually hurt your credit score. According to a recent poll, 23% of Millennials didn’t know the impact of a late payment on your credit score. Building and maintaining great credit is already challenging enough for many people, you don’t need to make it more difficult by perpetuating the myths. What you think you know maybe costing you. Here are five credit score myths that you must stop believing.
A Credit Score is a Credit Score is a Credit Score
Most people are familiar with FICO (Fair Issac Corp.), which, because of its ubiquitous use, has become synonymous with the term “credit score.” While it is the standard bearer for the credit scoring industry, and the one used by most lenders, FICO is not the only credit score you see. In most cases when you see an offer for a free credit score from your bank or credit card company, the score you get is not FICO. It is most likely going to be the VantageScore, which is produced by the three major credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
When you compare your FICO score to your VantageScore or any other credit score, you will see they are not the same. Although the three credit bureaus generate a VantageScore, they may produce different numbers. That’s because FICO and the other credit scorers differ slightly in the way they measure and calculate their scores. So, if you are looking at your VantageScore from Equifax, it won’t necessarily be the same score your lender is looking at. While reviewing any credit score can be helpful in tracking your credit, if you are applying for a loan, you should request your score from FICO so you know what your lender is seeing.
Closing a Credit Account Can Improve Your Credit Score
If you think you are carrying to many credit cards and that it may be hurting your credit score, closing a credit card account will not help you. In fact, it is more likely to hurt you. One of the key scoring factors used by the credit bureaus is your credit history – the longer your history, the better. If you do feel as though you need to close an account, close your newest account so it doesn’t affect your history.
Also, if you think that closing a credit card account can erase your troubled past, it won’t – at least not for seven year. Missed payments remain a part of your credit history regardless of whether or not the account is closed. However, they should automatically fall off your report after seven years.
Carrying Balances on Your Credit Card is Good for Your Credit Score
Carrying balances on your credit cards does not help your credit. In fact, if your balances get to high in relation to your available credit, it will hurt your score. Carry a zero balance on your cards is better for your score and your pocket book (no interest charges). The credit bureaus are more focused on your credit activity and how you demonstrate the responsible use of credit. But, to measure that, they do need to see some activity. So, although you should do your best not to carry a balance, you do need to create regular credit activity. You do that by using your credit cards to pay for budgeted expenses and then paying them in full each month. That does more to boost your credit score than anything else.
Checking Your Credit Score Hurts Your Credit Score
No, it doesn’t. When you check your own credit score, it creates a soft inquiry on your report. Soft inquiries do not affect your credit score. Hard inquiries, those made by creditors when you apply for credit, can hurt your score if too many are made within a short period of time. Even those are only temporary hits which don’t hurt your score that much. So, check your credit score as often as you wish.
When You Marry, You Get a Joint Credit Score
Not true. Credit records are based on an individual’s Social Security number. Once your credit record is established it will always remain separate even after marriage. When a couple applied for a loan, the lender pulls both spouses’ credit reports and scores and makes its determination based on their combined activities and histories. However, once the loan is issued, it is becomes a joint loan; and, any credit miscues, such as a missed payment, will show up on both spouses’ credit report.
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