Your credit score can determine the credit card interest rate you may qualify for, help a prospective employer make a hiring decision on your behalf, help you qualify for a rental or get your utilities connected without a deposit. A credit report consists of several categories of data that, combined, give the lender or credit company the best indicator of your financial health and how likely you are to repay your debts.
Every payment you make–or miss–on your credit card debt or loans is recorded on your credit score and archived to cover the past seven to 10 years. According to Bankrate, your lender reports this information to the credit agencies each month. If you are late, your credit report shows the number of late payments for each debt. If you have bankruptcies, judgments, liens or other negative marks on your credit history, it shows up in this category and can negatively affect your credit score for up to 10 years.
This category details the portion of your available credit you are using. If your credit lines are maxed out, this can damage your credit score. According to Jamison Law Group, the credit scoring software that determines your score likes to see that you carry small credit card balances. Ideally, try to use a maximum of 10 percent of your total credit card limit. If you can transfer balances to spread the debt over several cards, you may see your credit score rise.
Age of Your Accounts
How long you have held onto your accounts with a successful history of repayment is another piece of the picture in determining your credit worthiness. The older your accounts, the better the score; that's why it's important to not close your credit card accounts. This category takes into consideration the age of your credit cards and the average age of credit cards on your credit report. Every time you apply for and open a new account, the age of your credit is lowered.
Numerous credit inquiries for new credit cards within a short period of time is another determining factor of your credit. According to MyFICO.com, if you open several credit cards simultaneously, your credit score can suffer because this equates with higher risk. Most scores are not negatively affected by numerous inquiries from car, home or student loan lenders, as these are treated as single instances or inquiries.
- Bankrate; What is a Credit Score?; Leslie McFadden; April 2010
- MyFICO: Credit Basics -- Credit Inquiries
- Bankrate; How Credit Inquiries Affect Credit Score; Leslie McFadden; February 2010
- Experian. "How Often Is a Credit Report Updated?" Accessed April 15, 2020.
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- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Who Are the Credit Invisible?" Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Experian. "What Is a Credit Utilization Rate?" Accessed April 15, 2020.
- First General Bank. "How to Read Your Credit Report," Page 1. Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Credit Score Myths That Might Be Holding You Back From Improving Your Credit." Accessed April 15, 2020.
- National Credit Union Administration. "Credit Card Payments." Accessed April 15, 2020.
- FICO. "Payment History." Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Equifax. "When Does a Late Credit Card Payment Show up on Credit Reports?" Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What's a Credit Inquiry?" Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Experian. "What Is a Hard Inquiry and How Does It Affect Credit?" Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Federal Trade Commission. "Credit Scores - What Can You Do to Improve Your Score?" Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Time. "This Man Has 1,497 Credit Cards and Near-Perfect Credit Score." Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Guinness World Records. "Largest Collection of Valid Credit Cards." Accessed April 15, 2020.
- FICO. "The Importance of Credit History Length." Accessed April 15, 2020.
- Experian. "750 Credit Score: Is it Good or Bad?" Accessed April 15, 2020.
Elle Smith has been an advertising professional for more than 25 years. Her work for ABC, CBS and Sony Pictures Television has appeared on radio, on air, in print and outdoors. In addition, Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, graphic arts, commercial photography and print production, and is a licensed real estate agent with property management certification in California.