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Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Improve?

  • Pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments and collections can have a major negative impact on
    your score.
  • If you have missed payments, get current and stay current. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your score.
  • Be aware that paying off a collection account, or closing an account on
    which you previously missed a payment, will not remove it from your credit report. The score will still consider this information, because it reflects your past credit pattern.
  • If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors or see a legitimate credit counselor. This won’t improve your score immediately, but if you can begin to manage your credit and pay on time, your score will get better over time. And you won’t lose points for seeing a credit counselor.
  • Keep balances low on credit cards and other “revolving credit.” High outstanding debt can affect
    a score.
  • Pay off debt rather than moving it around. The most effective way to improve your score in this area is by paying down your revolving credit. In fact, owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your score.
  • Don’t close unused credit cards as a shortterm
    strategy to raise your score.
  • Don’t open a number of new credit cards that you don’t need, just to increase your available credit. This approach could backfire and actually lower your score.
  • If you have been managing credit for a short time, don’t open a lot of new accounts too rapidly. New accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your score if you don’t have a lot of other credit information. Also, rapid account buildup can look risky if you
    are a new credit user.
  • Do your rate shopping for a given auto or mortgage loan within a focused period of time. FICO scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which inquiries occur.
  • Re-establish your credit history if you have had problems. Opening new accounts responsibly and
    paying them off on time will raise your score in the long term.
  • Note that it’s OK to request and check your own credit report and your own FICO score. This won’t affect your score, as long as you order your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency
    or through an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers, like the myFICO service. For more information,
  • Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Don’t open accounts just to have a better credit mix— it probably won’t raise your score.
  • Have credit cards—but manage them responsibly. In general, having credit cards and installment
    loans (and making timely payments) will raise your score. People with no credit cards, for example, tend to be higher risk than people who have managed credit cards responsibly.
  • Note that closing an account doesn’t make it go away. A closed account will still show up on your
    credit report, and may be considered by the score.

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