Is your credit score a good one, and does it even matter in 2021? More Than Money take a look at what lies you might have been told about your credit score.
Ah, the dreaded credit report.
You’re meant to check your credit score every time you get in the bath or settle down in front of the TV with the dog if the adverts are to be believed.
All so you can regularly feel terrible about that ill-advised store card you took out when you were 18.
And why shouldn’t you feel bad?
It’s the reason you’ll never, ever be able to get credit again, right? – you’re on the ‘blacklist’ now….and you’ve doomed everyone else at your address to the same fate…
And all because you wanted 20% off in Topshop back in 1998.
But is it really all doom and gloom?
Read on, you might be surprised….
7 Lies You’ve Been Told About Your Credit Score
There are so many myths flying around about our credit scores that the truth has been buried in advertising over the past few decades.
But the truth is, it actually is a good idea to check your credit score regularly – just to make sure there aren’t any mistakes or evidence of fraudulent activity that could mean you’d be rejected outright for any credit you might apply for!
It’s also definitely advisable to check your credit score before you apply for a credit card or mortgage so that you can take steps to improve it if need be.
Despite what a lot of people think, checking your credit report on a regular basis will in no way damage your credit rating.
And that’s not the only myth surrounding credit scores that I’ll be debunking today…
1. If Your Credit Score Is Bad You’ll Be On The Blacklist
Nobody wants to get into debt; it’s horrible, but life throws all sorts of things our way and if you suddenly find yourself missing a payment of some sort the stress can be unbelievable.
A lot of the time the worry of not meeting such a financial commitment is driven by the fear of the ‘blacklist’.
Once your name’s on it, that’s it – and not only that but your address and everyone who lives there will be listed too!(insert spooky music here)
Ok, that’s not actually true.
The ‘blacklist’ doesn’t really exist.
Lenders all have their own criteria for assessing whether you are a risky customer or not, and just because one company rejects your application for credit, another might not.
Another lie you might have been told is that your credit rating is affected by the financial status of the people you live with – and vice versa.
Unless you’re connected financially – by having a joint mortgage for example – your credit rating isn’t going to affect anybody else but you.
2. It’s Better For Your Credit Score If You’ve Never Borrowed At All
You’ve never had a loan or a credit card, never bought a sofa on interest-free credit or even had a mobile phone contract.
Well done you!
Your credit report should be top notch, right?
Who would refuse credit to someone who has never owed anything?
When lenders assess your application for credit they’ll want to see evidence of successful repayments so that they know you can pay back what you borrow.
If this sounds like you then it’s a good idea to get something like a credit-builder credit card – which does what it says on the tin and is specifically for helping people to build their credit rating.
You might not need credit right this second, but it’s better to take steps towards getting a good score NOW, rather than it being a setback when you want to get something like a mortgage in the future, for example.
3. Your Financial Misdeeds Are Recorded Indefinitely
If you made a stupid financial decision when you were younger by taking on credit and then falling behind on repayments, you might be kicking yourself now thinking that you’ve ruined your credit history forever.
But that isn’t the case.
A lot of the data that affects your credit report such as missed or late payments normally remain on there for up to 6 years after the account has been settled or defaulted.
Ok, don’t freak out – I know that’s a long time, but it isn’t forever!
It’s also worth knowing that most lenders are less likely to rely on older data when they make a lending decision.
This means it’s unlikely that a missed payment from a couple of years ago is going to affect you too badly.
4. All Credit Reference Agencies Have The Same Information About You
Credit score confusion can often be caused by the fact that there’s more than one credit reference agency, and because they all have different criteria and methods for calculating your score, it can be different on all of them.
This actually works in your favour.
Think about it:
Lenders don’t all use the same agency when they do their credit checks, so getting rejected by one lender doesn’t mean you’ll get rejected by all of them.
5. Bad Credit Means No Credit
Having bad credit doesn’t make it impossible to get access to credit – but it does make it very expensive.
Any credit you get offered would be at a MUCH higher rate of interest than if you had good credit.
I would always recommend spending some time looking at ways to improve your credit score and shopping around before committing to credit with a sky-high interest rate.
(On that note be sure to read our Bad credit and buying a home article)
6. A Bigger Salary Means A Better Credit Score
I can see why people might think this, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Sure, your income and any savings you may have could well form part of the criteria lenders use to decide whether to lend to you or not.
These things prove you have a regular wage and can, on paper, afford to make repayments.
However, even if you do earn a high wage, if you have debts or a history of missed payments you might still find it hard to get credit.
7. You Can’t Improve Your Credit Score
Even though there is a myth that your credit score is set in stone for the rest of your life, it’s total rubbish!!
As I mentioned earlier, you could be waiting quite a few years for information about debt or missed payments to be struck from the record…
..but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do things in the meantime to improve things as much as possible.
It will take time for it to be reflected in your score, but something as simple as registering on the electoral roll or closing down any accounts that you no longer use could really make a difference.
I hope that’s debunked a few credit score myths for you!