There is more credit score information available than ever, but many consumers continue to believe harmful misconceptions about credit scores. Credit scores are used by lenders as one of the main factors in decisions to approve or decline loans, and to charge higher interest rates and fees to higher-risk customers. Credit scores also will determine approvals and interest rates for housing and vehicle purchases.
Some of those misconceptions, according to thebalance.com, include:
A bad credit score lasts forever
A bad credit score will only last forever if you continue to make choices that hurt your credit score, i.e., paying late, maxing out your credit cards, letting bills go to collections, etc. Otherwise, if you start managing your credit well, your credit score will improve with time.
It takes a long time for a credit score to go bad
It only takes a few months to ruin a good credit score. At six months past due, your account will be charged-off, which is one of the worst things you can do to your credit score. Multiple charge-offs or collections can completely ruin your credit score.
Checking your credit hurts your scores
You can check your credit as many times as you want without hurting your credit score as long as you’re using credit scoring services, and not mortgage lenders, to check your score.
Each person has only one credit score
Each person has several credit scores because there are several different credit scoring models. And for each credit scoring model, there are three different credit scores for each of the major credit bureaus.
The credit score you check is the same one a lender will see
The credit score you get online, whether free or purchased, is an educational credit score and typically not the same credit score your lender is going to use. While the educational credit score can give you a general idea of your credit health, you can’t take for granted that you’ll be approved based on that score.
Getting married will merge your credit scores
You and your spouse will continue to maintain separate credit histories and credit scores after you get married. Joint accounts will affect both of your credit scores, but individually held accounts will affect only that account holder’s credit score.
Employers check credit scores
It is against the law for employers to use credit scores to screen job applicants. According to nerdwallet.com, potential employers don’t see an applicant’s credit score, but they get a modified credit report showing debt and payment history. Employers sometimes check credit to get insight into a potential hire, including signs of financial distress that might indicate risk of theft or fraud.
Closing a credit card will improve your credit score
Closing a credit card is more likely to hurt your credit score than to help it, particularly if you close the card with a balance. Leaving accounts open, especially if they’re in good standing, is typically better for your credit score.
Paying off a collection keeps it from hurting your credit score
Paying a collection account can help your credit score in the long run, but
don’t expect an immediate increase from paying a collection. Once the collection is on your credit report, it factors into your credit score until the credit reporting time limit runs out. There’s an exception for collections under $100, but only with newer credit scoring models that ignore these low collection amounts.
A bad credit score means you’ll never be approved for anything
A bad credit score makes it harder to get approved, but it’s not the only factor that creditors and lenders consider when they’re evaluating your creditworthiness. Income and level of debt are other factors that play a role. You can be approved even with a bad credit score, but required to pay a security deposit or a higher interest rate.
Not having any debt means you have a good credit score
Your level of debt is a factor in your credit score, but it comes second to payment history. If you paid off your debt after a bout of bad credit, it might take several months, years even, for your credit score to rebound.