Credit Score: Separating Fact from Fictionby Tim Manni
Credit conditions are tight these days — getting a loan isn’t as easy, and may never be as easy, as it used to. That means your credit score and report may dictate whether or not you get a mortgage, car, credit card, student loan and more. With so much riding on good credit, it’s time to separate the facts from the fiction when it comes to your credit.
You may think that you have just one credit score, but in fact, you have several. Your FICO score — the credit rating system developed by Fair Isaac Corp. which can range from a dismal 300 to the pinnacle of 850 — is just one. The others are calculated by the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Your exact credit score all depends on the type of lender requesting it and which credit bureau reports it.
How long does a late credit card payment stay on your credit history? How is your credit score even computed? The Wall Street Journal answers these questions and more as they separate the credit myths from the truth in their article titled “Credit Scores: What You Need to Know Now.”
I pay my card off every month, so I must be a low credit risk.
True, your financial habits are excellent. But they won’t affect your score. That’s because the credit bureaus don’t have a clue whether you pay your bill in full or carry a balance on your cards each month. All they know is the amount you owed on your most recent statement.
Instead, the crucial fact is how much available credit you have used. Steve Ely, president of personal-information solutions at Equifax, says you should keep your credit use to less than half your credit limit to minimize the impact on your score.
I was late on a payment, but the debt is now paid off. So I’m good, right?
Afraid not. The single most important factor in your score, accounting for 35% of the total, is whether you have paid your bills on time. One late payment will ding your score for up to a year, very late payments can hurt you for two or three years, and collections and bankruptcies can sting for up to seven years.
Click here to read “Credit Scores: What You Need to Know Now” in its entirety.
To read more articles from HSH on your credit score and credit report, be sure to read the following:
Loan Modifications Are Hurting Credit Scores
Should You Sign Up for a Credit Monitoring Service?
When Good Credit Won’t Mean Squat