There’s a lot of misinformation out there about credit scores. If you’re trying to get your credit on track, this misinformation can make that task daunting. Don’t believe any of these common myths about credit scores.
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Myth: You Only Have One Credit Score
Fact: There are three credit reporting bureaus, each with multiple proprietary credit scores. Different lenders use different scoring models that work best for them. 1
Myth: You Should Close Accounts You’re Not Using
Fact: Leaving old cards open may have a number of benefits. The first is that it can increase the length of your credit history, which factors into your score. More importantly, having a big reservoir of credit you’re not actively using helps to keep your credit utilization ratio (the amount of your available credit you’re actually using) low. 1 Generally, avoid closing a card without a good reason to do so.
Myth: Your Credit Report Is a Fully Accurate Account of Your Credit History
Fact: It might be, and it’s intended to be, but as many as one in five Americans have inaccurate information on their credit report. 2 That might be an account you’re not liable for, a missed payment you made on time or an inaccurate balance. You should pull—and you are entitled by law to pull—each of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus once a year.
Myth: Not Having Credit Cards Will Give You a Good Credit Score
Fact: Credit scores are calculated based on past use of use debt and credit. If you don’t have debt or you don’t use credit, you may not have a score. That could make it difficult to get certain jobs or apartments. Even if you like to pay your bills as you go, it’s wise to get a credit card and pay it off every month to maintain a credit history.
Myth: Your Income and Credit Score Are Related
Fact: The credit reporting bureaus don’t have access to your income. There’s no direct connection between how much you earn and your credit score. 3
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Myth: Missing One Payment Isn’t a Big Deal
Fact: Payment history is typically the single largest factor in a credit score. Missing one payment could wind up on your credit report for up to seven years. What’s more, in the short term, it can drop your score by more than 100 points. 4