Parking tickets don’t go on your credit score unless you don’t pay them and they are turned over to a collection agency. This often happens when people get tickets and aren’t aware that it’s happened. Understanding how this can occur will help you prevent parking tickets from damaging your credit history and score, both of which can cost you money when you apply for other credit products.
Read More: How Does a Credit Score Work?
Problems With Unpaid Tickets
If you get a parking ticket and the ticket blows off your windshield or is removed by someone, you won’t know you’ve been ticketed. If you don’t pay the ticket by the due date, it generates interest. If this goes on for years, you can pile up large fines.
If you have one or more unpaid parking tickets and get pulled over for something else (such as a broken tail light), the police will find out when they run your license plate. Depending on how many unpaid tickets you have and how long they are outstanding, the police can arrest you and take you in until you pay your tickets – possibly requiring an overnight stay and court visit.
Your car can get booted if it’s parked and you’re not around, your license can get suspended and you won’t be able to renew your title and tags. If you don’t know you have a parking ticket, you’ll find out when you try to renew your license or tags in the state where the ticket was issued.
Read More: Can a Collection Agency Suspend Your Licenses?
Turned Over for Collection
Don’t think blowing off a parking ticket in a town or state you’re never going to visit again won’t damage your credit. It’s true that a parking ticket does not go on your credit report and can’t hurt your credit history and score. However, if you leave your ticket(s) unpaid long enough, the issuing government will turn the account over to a collection agency, which gets to keep most of the money it collects.
Once any account goes to a collection agency, the agency reports it to the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). This is one way collection companies get you to pay your amounts due. If you don’t check your credit reports on a regular basis, you might not know you have a collection (if the collection agency can’t find you).
You can pull your credit reports free each year using AnnualCreditReport.com or contacting each of the three credit reporting agencies separately. You can purchase your credit reports if you want them more than once each year.
Read More: Consequences of a Parking Ticket on Insurance
Payment Impact on Credit Scores
Credit rating scoring companies such as FICO and VantagesScore use your payment history as one factor in determining your credit score.
The higher your credit score, the more access to credit products you’ll have, and you’ll get better offers. For example, people with higher scores can get credit cards with lower interest rates, higher credit lines and no fees. They also qualify for mortgages more easily and get lower rates.
Your payment history comprises 35 percent of your FICO score – the most widely used score by lenders. This is why it’s important to review your credit reports on a regular basis, or at least a month or so before you need to apply for a car loan, credit card, mortgage or other credit product.
Steve Milano has written more than 1,000 pieces of personal finance and frugal living articles for dozens of websites, including Motley Fool, Zacks, Bankrate, Quickbooks, SmartyCents, Knew Money, Don't Waste Your Money and Credit Card Ideas, as well as his own websites.