We all believe things that aren’t true. Sometimes myths become so prevalent that we just take them at face value. When it comes to credit myths, though, you need to be especially careful. The myths you believe about your credit report and your credit score can hurt in the long run.
There are plenty of credit myths out there (and you can see a list of them at Experian.com), but there are a few that it’s especially important to watch out for. Here are 5 credit myths that you need to stop believing now:
1. Closing a Credit Card Will Help Your Credit Score
This myth is prevalent among those who are desperate to pay down debt. I understand how important it is to pay off debt, and to not get back into the habit, but you need to be careful about closing your accounts. Closing a credit card, far from helping you, might actually hurt your credit score. Depending on your credit utilization, closing a card could damage the second-most important part of your credit score. Think twice before closing your credit card.
2. All Debt is Created Equal
You might think that debt is debt is debt, but that’s not the case. Some debt is considered “better” than others. A large amount of debt on your credit card is viewed more negatively than modest mortgage debt. Additionally, some types of accounts, like those from payday loan places, are not considered as “positive” as a loan from a well-known bank. The type of debt you have matters, and is taken into account in the credit scoring algorithm.
3. Boosting Your Income Means a Better Credit Score
Many consumers think that getting a raise or a better-paying job will help a credit score. Unfortunately, this is one of the more pernicious credit myths out there. The reality is that your income isn’t factored into your credit score. While your employer information might be listed on your credit report, it doesn’t actually impact your score. Your demographics don’t impact it, either.
The only way a higher income can help your credit score is if you use some of that extra money to pay down debt, lowering your credit utilization.
4. Employers Can Decide Not to Hire You Based on Your Credit Score
As part of a background check, some employers might request permission to view your credit report. However, it’s important to note that this is not the same thing as looking at your credit score. Employers aren’t supposed to check your credit score (and in some states, depending on state law, they can’t even look at your credit report); they are just supposed to view a special version of your credit report aimed specifically at employers for background checks.
5. You Have a Joint Credit Report with Your Spouse
Just because you’re married and share accounts doesn’t mean that you have the same credit report. In fact, you don’t. Each person has his or her own credit report. If you have joint accounts, these will appear on both of your credit reports and affect your scores, but the report itself won’t be a joint credit report. If you try to borrow as a couple, lenders will pull your individual reports to determine what your overall creditworthiness might be.
Don’t let credit myths hold you back. Get educated about what really happens with your credit report and score, and make decisions according to reliable information.
This blog post was written as part of a sponsored program for ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian Company. All views expressed are entirely my own and were not influenced or directed by Experian. This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.