Last week we discussed 5 common credit myths that most of us have believed at one time or another. I say “us” because it wasn’t long ago that I was also buying in to some of these misconceptions. I have since taken the time to learn the ins and outs of credit scoring and it has been one of the best financial decisions that I have ever made.
It also saved me more than $10,000 on my mortgage. More on that in a future post.
Today we are going to take a look at 5 more myths that might be preventing you from building a solid credit score. Like in my last post, I put this list together based on questions that you sent me about credit and credit scoring.
Let’s get started.
Credit Myth #6: Paying all of your debts will instantly fix your credit score.
This is like believing that starting a diet will instantly make you fit.
The truth is that your credit report reflects your history of responsible credit use, not just a snapshot of your current situation. Even after being paid off, it can take as long as 7 years for a debt to fall off of your credit report.
So if you are looking for a quick fix for your credit score, this is not it.
Credit Myth #7: You only have one credit score.
This myth is perpetuated by all of the advertisements that encourage you to “check, your credit score”, as if there is only one score that is used for everyone.
I wish it were that simple.
The truth is that there are dozens of credit scoring models that are used to predict your likelihood of default. Each of them is a little different and at times can produce drastically different scores. While I would love to discuss each of them with you (actually, that sounds awful), I’ll save us both the time and cut to the chase.
The most widely used credit score is the FICO Score, which ranges from 300-850. This is the score that you want to pay attention to.
Your FICO Score is calculated from several different pieces of data in your credit report that are grouped into 5 basic categories. You can learn how it is calculated by taking at look at the FICO website or some of my older posts on credit scoring.
Other credit scoring models are often referred to as “FAKO” scores. While these scores can be useful for getting a basic idea of where you stand, the FICO score is the one that really counts.
Credit Myth #8: Once a credit score is bad it can’t be fixed.
I have found that this is more of an excuse than a myth. People with bad credit tend to bring this up when they are confronted with the idea of repairing their credit score.
In reality they are simply trying to justify their laziness.
While there are certainly no “quick fixes” for a credit score, it can be rebuilt with a little bit of patience and discipline. They key is start making your payments on time and building a history of responsible credit use.
More on this in a future post.
Credit Myth #9: Income/education/net worth can affect a credit score
This is another myth that I am contacted about quite frequently. Many of the emails look like this:
“I recently received a large raise and am looking forward to booking some cheap travel (travel hacking?). How long will it take for my new income to show up in my credit score?”
Clearly this person did not read any of my posts about how credit scores work.
The fact of the matter is that your income, education, and net worth have nothing to do with your credit score or credit report.
Your credit score is a reflection of your ability to pay your bills on time, not your current financial standing. It cannot be improved simply by earning or saving a lot of money.
Credit Myth #10: Credit reports are only used for financial purposes
In addition to being used in credit decisions, credit reports can be used by current and potential employers to aid in employment decisions. While they cannot see your actual credit score, employers are able to view a modified version of your credit report that includes information about loans and credit cards listed in your credit report.
This practice is especially common in industries such as banking or finance, where employees are responsible for dealing with a client’s personal finances.
This is just another reason why your credit score is such a crucial component of your overall financial well-being.
That’s all for today. As always, feel free to email me with any questions that you might have. I respond to every email that I receive.