After a lifetime of using credit, where did my score go?

This post originally appeared September 8, 2016 on CreditCards.com as “If credit score disappears, here’s how to get it back

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
How does a credit report disappear? I have used credit for most of my life. I am 75 years old and when I recently applied for a loan, I was told I had no credit score. I had one a few years ago. I needed it for something and it was available. What makes the report go away? – Patricia

Dear Patricia,
Let’s begin by clarifying that often-blurred line between credit reports and credit scores, since it sounds like you probably still have a credit report — just no credit score.

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When the thrill of being on your GF’s cards is gone

This post originally appeared September 1, 2016 on CreditCards.com as “Removing yourself as an authorized user

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I used my girlfriend’s credit cards to build up my credit scores as an authorized user. I want to take myself off those accounts (which are in perfect shape, like 2 percent usage). Will this drop my score significantly? I only have one unsecured card in my name. – Tom

Dear Tom,
Sometimes it can seem that raising a credit score simply by being added to someone’s credit card as an authorized user might just be too good to be true. After all, what could be easier? You don’t have to have good credit of your own or even make any payments. Once you’ve been added, that card automatically appears on your credit report and is included in your credit score as if it were your own.

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When widowed, having established your own credit helps

This post originally appeared August 25, 2016 on CreditCards.com as “How becoming a widow affects credit

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
My mother was an authorized user on my father’s credit card with a 13-year perfect history and a $19,000 limit. My father passed away and my mother had to open a new account. She does have a personal credit history with less than 10 percent balance on several cards with a greater than five-year length and had an 820 credit score prior to this card having to be canceled. How much should she expect her credit score to drop considering there are three significant auto loans and now her credit/debt ratio will significantly and negatively change. – Kristie

Dear Kristie,
The credit effects of becoming a widow or widower will depend largely on the ownership of the couple’s accounts, and the survivor’s individual credit profile.

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Does mortgage preapproval affect credit score?

This post originally appeared August 18, 2016 on CreditCards.com as “How preapproved offers affect credit

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I have been preapproved for a $40,000 mortgage. I have decided not to purchase a home at this time. Is it a bad idea to apply for a Costco credit card before I notify my bank that I will not be using the preapproval at this time? Or is it better to wait until I don’t have a preapproval on record. I have a 730 credit score. – Roseann

Dear Roseann,
Credit score-wise, whether you do or don’t notify the bank of your intention to forgo the preapproved mortgage loan at this time, you should have little to worry about. That’s because, in a sense, any score damage would have already been done by inquiries at the time of the preapproval credit checks. Here, we’ll take a look at how the two most common types of preapprovals – mortgage and credit card – affect credit scores.

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Late child support payments may not hurt your score

This post originally appeared August 11, 2016 on CreditCards.com as “How delinquent child support affects credit scores

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
How do delinquent child support payments affect credit scores? – Russ

Dear Russ,
There are three common ways for child support debt to appear on a credit report. Two can affect your credit score and one cannot.

1. Collection
As with any other form of past-due debt, a collection item on a credit report for delinquent child support debt can seriously hurt your credit score. Collections for unpaid child support most often originate with either a state child support enforcement agency or an individual custodial parent turning to a collection agency for help.

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Can credit denial hurt your score?

This post originally appeared August 4, 2016 on CreditCards.com as “How being denied credit affects your score

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
What are the credit consequences of being denied credit? – Bo

Dear Bo,
In the days before modern credit scoring, more than 25 years ago, it could hurt. A lender who saw a hard inquiry on a credit report, and no corresponding credit card account being issued, would assume the application was denied. The assumption could then negatively influence the credit decision at hand.

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How much score damage to expect from added inquiry?

This post originally appeared July 28, 2016 on CreditCards.com as “Hard inquiry warning not required

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
Are lenders supposed to warn you before you apply that a hard inquiry will hurt your credit score if denied? Do inquiries hurt your score differently when denied credit than approved? – Tommy

Dear Tommy,
Some lenders may warn applicants of the potential for credit score damage from a hard inquiry caused by a credit pull. But no law requires them to do so. The harm from a hard inquiry happens at application. It does not matter whether your application is approved or denied.

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Credit scoring quirks that make you wonder

This post originally appeared July 21, 2016 on CreditCards.com as “5 Credit scoring head-scratchers

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
What makes your credit score drop when a loan has been paid off early? – Delores 

Dear Delores,
In the vast majority of credit-granting situations, the rules of credit scoring makes a lot of sense. If you have a history of living within your means and paying on time, you’ll have a good credit score and be able to obtain new credit when you need it.

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Credit utilization ratio: timing is everything

Dear Speaking of Credit,
Is it true that paying off my credit cards every billing cycle may not benefit my score as much as I hope, because creditors can pull my credit scores at a time during the month when my balances are @ 50%? I have utilization ratios @ 50-70 % between cycles, because of business expenses. –Richard

Dear Richard,
You don’t need to worry about when your creditors pull your scores each month, as long as your balances as of each card’s closing/statement date are as low as you can make them. No matter when your scores are pulled during the month, the last reported closing/statement date balances are the only ones the scores will ever see.

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Discarding authorized user card could hurt more than help

This post originally appeared July 14, 2016 on CreditCards.com as “Authorized user doesn’t like the piggyback ride

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I was recently added to my fiance’s accounts as an authorized user to try to help him clear up some fraud. He had a few late payments in the past and now those are showing on my credit report. Is that legal? Can I dispute this since the late payments happened long before I became an authorized user? – Amy

Dear Amy,
Not only is it legal to report account history that predates you becoming an authorized user, it’s based on a legal requirement.

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