Can a Parking Ticket Affect Your Credit Score?

It may seem unfair, but a parking ticket for a $100 can turn an excellent credit score into an average one. Parking tickets do not automatically go on a credit history, but you take a huge gamble if you do not pay off your fine. In some cases, a parking ticket that goes on your credit report has no effect on your score. But if you don't pay, you could wreck your credit and eventually have to pay the fine, possibly plus interest, if the government sells your ticket to a collection agency.

Identification

A parking ticket can affect your credit score, but only if the government sells your debt to a collection agency. When any creditor sells your debt to a collection agency, the agency usually reports the account to the credit bureaus. Collection accounts can do as little 20 points of damage to more than 100 points' worth -- higher scores have more points to lose, so you can expect to lose points in the upper range of this spectrum.

Considerations

Not all collection accounts affect your credit rating. The FICO 8 scoring formula ignores any collect account with an original value of less than $100, according to Leslie McFadden of Bankrate.com. However, if a creditor uses an earlier version of the FICO system, the collection counts against your credit rating -- assuming the account appears on your credit history. Many governments do not sell accounts to collection agencies.

Time Frame

In general, governments try to collect on the ticket for 30 to 60 days after they issue it. Thus, you should use this time to save money to pay off the ticket. Some governments let you take defensive-driving classes to remove the ticket from your record. Also, it may be some time before FICO 8 becomes standard in the lending industry. As of 2010, there were only 1,000 banks using FICO 8, according to MSN Money Central.

Tip

You can always fight a parking ticket. You could hire a lawyer to review your case, but legal assistance may not be necessary or profitable, because parking tickets rarely go past a few hundred dollars and do not affect your insurance. Look for reasons why the officer may have issued your ticket in error. For example, maybe you parked in a spot after the city turns off parking meters, but the officer saw a wrong time on his watch.