Recently during our refinance, I got to find out the credit score for my wife and I. But that wasn’t all. In addition, I was also given a full report that includes a breakdown of every reason why I lost points.
I decided it would be worthwhile to examine these reasons and see where I blew it. So for your amusement, I have posted the exerts below and we’ll review each of the reasons they listed.
A Quick Review of the Credit Score Ranges:
As everyone knows, the higher your credit score, the better. Here are the ranges of scores you can get on your credit report:
• Experian: 320 – 844
• Equifax: 334 – 818
• Transunion: 309 – 839
How We Did:
For starters, I’d like you to know that my wife and I have no special “credit score strategies”. We simply pay our credit cards and bills off in full, on-time, every time.
With that said, I’m very happy to report my wife and I scored very well on that simple premise. Here are the results from each of our reports:
Where We Went Wrong:
So what kept my wife and I from a perfect score from all three credit reporting agencies? Here are the factors that negatively impacted our scores:
• “Time since most recent account opening is too short” or “Too many accounts recently opened” (all three). I am a multiple offender of applying for a credit card simply because it had a great cash back program or sign-up offer. We also take advantage of “0 % interest” cards where we can take 12 to 48 months to payoff big-ticket purchases. To improve this one, it looks like we’ll need to take it easy on applying for new credit lines.
• “Ratio of balance to limit on bank revolving or other rev accts too high” (Experian, Transunion). The amount of revolving credit balance (the amount of money we owe each month) is too high by each of the agencies standards. This is probably true because we put EVERYTHING on our credit cards in an effort to max out our cash-back. To fix this one, it looks like I have two options: 1) use my credit cards less or 2) qualify for higher balances. But watch out! I have also heard that requesting higher balances may also impact your score.
• “Length of time revolving accounts have been established” (Transunion). This one goes back to having too many new credit cards and loans. It would help if we stopped closing accounts, taking on new ones, and let some of our accounts age a little.
• “Too many consumer finance company accounts” (Equifax). Basically we have too many credit cards from too many random sources. At some point it may be wise to consolidate our accounts to just a few well-known cards. But again, watch out! Closing credit accounts will increase my debt-to-credit utilization ratio which will also negatively affect my account.
• “Too many accounts with balances” (All three). This is similar to the previous bullet – too many accounts open. Again, I’ll have to weigh the benefits of either consolidating or keeping them open keep my debt-to-credit utilization ratio down.
• “Too many credit report inquiries” (all three). I’ve recently had too many people pull my credit history for both our refinance and for a “0% interest” credit card. In general, having too many people look up your credit history is a red flag for creditors. If I want to improve this, I should limit the number of times people do this. This should be easy to do in the future because I do not have any significant purchases coming up.
• “Lack of recent installment loan information” (Transunion). Not sure about this one. It looks like whoever applied for this one didn’t enter everything properly. The fact that it only showed up as an issue with Transunion makes me suspicious. I’ll need to look further into this one.
Understanding Your Credit Score:
Rather than reinvent the wheel, there are a lot of great financial blogs out there that have some good posts about how to improve your score. Please feel free to check out the following:
What factors have lowered your credit score? Was there ever anything that negatively impacted your score that you were surprised by? Please feel free to share.
3) Easy Money – Cash Back on Gas and Groceries with the “Blue Cash Everyday” Card by American Express
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art