Common Credit Score Questions ANSWERED!
This is one of those topics that I really wish was taught in school. Credit scores can affect your entire financial future and they start the second you turn 18, but who understands credit at the age of 18? Definitely not a good system for developing good credit scores for young people!
I’ve compiled a list of 7 super important questions that a lot of people ask about credit, and I’ve answered them just for you guys. I really hope you learn something and if you want to save this post for future reference be sure to save it on Pinterest for later!
If you have any other questions about credit cards/credit scores be sure to leave them in the comments and myself and the community will get back to you! If you need a little refresher on the basics of credit scores and how they work, be sure to check out the in-depth article we wrote all about credit.
Q1: What is a credit score and why is it important?
A credit score is a number that takes into account all of your historical credit (both positive and negative). Your credit scores hows any possible lenders whether or not you’re going to be a risk to lend money to! So basically, it shows them whether or not you’re likely to pay back their money.
Your credit score is super important because any lender you ask for money is going to see it. If a lender thinks that you may default on a loan, they’re going to give you a higher interest rate so they can squeeze money out of you while they have the opportunity. A bad credit score can really cost you money.
Q2: Who can see my credit score?
Your credit score is seen by any company you ask for money. This could include credit card companies, car companies, mortgage firms, and more. Your credit score is calculated by Equifax and Transunion separately and they do some minor monitoring of your score as well.
When a lender checks your credit score, it’s considered a hard inquiry and can actually decrease your credit score by a few points. This is why you should try and not ask for too much credit close together because it can seriously impact your score.
There are also companies like Credit Karma where you can see your own credit score for free, and this is only considered a soft inquiry and won’t hurt your score.
Q3: Does my income impact my credit score?
The amount of money you make will not affect your credit score directly, but your income can be used by lenders to determine if you’ll be approved for a loan, to begin with.
Your credit score is based on your ability to spend and use money intelligently, but it has nothing to do with how much money you have/make. A person with a yearly income of $100,000 can easily have the same credit score as someone who makes $25,000. It all depends on if the person uses their money intelligently!
There is one small percentage of your credit score that may be slightly impacted by the amount of money you make, and that’s your debt-to-income ratio. This means that if you have double the amount of debt that you have compared to the amount of money you make, your score will be hurt.
Q4: Should I close old card accounts that I no longer use?
The answer to this question depends on whether or not it’s a positive or negative account!
If your balance on a card now is 0, and you’ve never missed a payment, keep that card open! There’s a part of your credit score that takes into account your length of credit history. This means the longer you have credit open, the better your score can be!
The only time I’d recommend closing a credit card account is if you’ve had a history of missing payments or paying late.
One thing you need to realize is that the more credit you have available to you, the lower your credit utilization rate will be. This means if you have a ton of credit available to you but only use some of it, your credit score will improve. If you keep your accounts open and are at least active a little bit, you can increase your score.
Q5: Why is my credit score different on different websites?
There are a few different websites out there where you can find your credit score without performing a hard inquiry. If you’ve checked a couple places you can usually see that the score is off by a few points.
This happens because different companies use different credit reporting companies to get your score, and these different companies use slightly different algorithms to apply weights to the five different sections of your score. Once a year you’re allowed to get a free credit report from Transunion and that’s the number that you should give the most weight to, but don’t worry too much about the variance in scores.
Q6: How long will a negative item stay on my credit report?
A negative item will stay on your credit report for 7 years. I really like this amount of time because it’s also the amount of time it takes for the cells in your body to regenerate! I just like comparing the too because I’m a huge dork haha. Every 7 years you get to be a bit of a different person!
This means that the financial mistakes you make at 23 will only affect you until your 30, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t the worst thing to ever happen. At least they won’t follow you forever.
The only thing that stays on an account longer than 7 years, is if you file for bankruptcy. In that case, you’ll be stuck with it for at least 10 years.
Q7: What category impacts my score the most?
The category of your credit score that impacts it the most is your payment history. This means that the best way you can keep your credit score consistent is by making sure you make at least the minimum payment every single month. The second you start missing payments, your score will drop super fast.
Credit scores and credit cards don’t have to be confusing. With a little help from yours truly, we can work through this and get you in that coveted 800+ credit score club.
I really hope I’ve been able to clear some things up for you and answer some of the most important questions about credit scores. If you learned something let me know in the comments and if you have any questions, ask them and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!