Category Archives: Credit Reports & Scores

Married or single, to your credit score you’ll always be single

This post originally appeared October 5, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Q&A: How credit utilization is calculated in a married couple’s scores

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
How is the credit utilization part of a credit score calculated when a married couple has some credit cards in both names and some in individual names? – Dorothy

Dear Dorothy,
Without realizing it, you’ve provided me with the opportunity to explain not only how a married couple’s credit information makes its way to each spouse’s credit reports and impacts their credit scores, but also to show how easy it can be to raise one or both credit scores when credit card accounts aren’t currently being reported in both spouses’ names.

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Utilization: 0% to 92% leads to huge one-month score drop

This post originally appeared September 28, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Q&A: Sudden spike in credit utilization can cause major score drop

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I have always had a 0 percent credit utilization on my credit card. This month it was at 92 percent because the payment cleared the day after it was reported. My credit score dropped about 100 points.

My question is, when the credit card company reports again and my card is back to 0 percent utilization, will my credit score rebound by about 100 points, or will it slowly creep back up? – Amanda

Dear Amanda,
Hats off to you for being willing and able to pay your card in full (almost) every month. There is nothing better for your credit score and your bank balance.

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Reporting error says ‘you’ closed card? No harm no foul.

This post originally appeared September 21, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Q&A: Should I contest credit card wrongly reported as closed by me?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I had a long history with a personal line of credit with Bank of America in the amount of $30,000. In May 2016, I was advised that BofA was no longer offering the product and therefore the credit line was “closed.”

I contacted BofA to see if there was a replacement product, other than a credit card. There wasn’t. At the time it was closed, it had a balance and there remains a balance. It has been reported as closed by me.

Should I contest this to find a way to report it as product no longer offered or some other indication, or is it best to leave it as it is? I appreciate any thoughts you may have. Thank you. – Angela

Dear Angela,
From your question, you seem to be well aware that different credit scoring impacts can come from even the slightest of reporting variations.

For example, a card account with a payment history accurately reported as “current” can be better for your score than that same account reported as “current – was 30 days delinquent.”

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Card activity plays only a minimal role in credit scoring

This post originally appeared August 10, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Q&A: How does credit card activity affect my score?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I recently opened a credit card for the first time. I have a $300 credit limit and haven’t been spending more than $25 a month on it.

So, let’s say I make a purchase of $10 on July 3 and pay it off on July 6, and my next statement date is July 28. Would it be beneficial to my credit score to make another purchase of $10 on, say, July 10, and pay it off before my next statement date? – Mitchell

Dear Mitchell,
The answer to your question of whether your credit score will reward you for that additional charge and payment during the same billing cycle as the prior activity is clearly a big no. But making an additional $10 charge and paying it off before the statement date won’t hurt your score either. It’s just an unnecessary couple of steps for score-raising purposes.

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Multiple strategies for lowering multiple card balances

This post originally appeared June 22, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘3 strategies for reducing debt on multiple cards

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
Is there a way to pay off cards that does not trigger a credit line reduction by the issuing card company?ards.com/credit-card-ne

Back in 2008, I paid three cards of five I had to $0, and the card issuers immediately reduced the credit line by 50 percent. This hurt my credit score instead of helping it.

I’ve read your “Keep 1 percent” article. Would paying all five cards down to 30 percent be better than paying off three of them to 1 percent while leaving the other two at 75-ish percent? – John

Dear John,
As you saw firsthand, card issuers grew edgy back in 2008, when recession-influenced record-high credit card debt and charge-offs found card companies attempting to stem future losses by lowering credit limits and closing accounts. What you experienced is called “chasing down the balance” in which card issuers would lower credit limits as their customers paid off balances.

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New card limit too low? Learning to live with it is best option.

This post originally appeared June 15, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Approved for a too-low-limit card; better off closing it?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I was approved for an American Express credit card today with a credit limit of $500. This limit is too low for me. I have several questions for you.

  1. If I were to close this account today, how low would my credit score drop (ballpark estimate)?
  2. How often can I apply for credit cards?
  3. How many cards can I apply for at one time? – Kenneth

Dear Kenneth,
Congratulations on being approved for that American Express card, albeit with just a $500 limit. I understand why you would want to close it, since that only makes common sense when you have no use for a card with such a low limit.

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How does card paid off 10 years ago help my score?

This post originally appeared May 4, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Is credit card paid off 10 years ago lowering my score?”

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
How can I delete old credit card records that were paid off over 10 years ago? They are bogging down my credit score?! – Christal

Dear Christal,
You’re going to be glad you asked this question. As you surely know, we consumers cannot simply delete negative information – for example, late payments, collections or bankruptcies – from our credit reports. By the same token, we are also denied the option of having positive information, whether old or new, removed from our credit reports.

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Credit 101, with Jenny Hoff & Barry Paperno

This podcast originally appeared April 26, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Charged up! podcast. Credit 101


 

Barry Paperno, a credit industry veteran and columnist for CreditCards.com, is an expert in the credit scoring game. In less than 30 minutes, Paperno educates us on Credit 101: What matters most, how to raise your score quickly, what makes a perfect credit score and the biggest mistake people make when it comes to their credit. Since credit affects our lives in a myriad of ways – from buying a home to getting a job and even renting an apartment, knowing the ins and outs of how the system works can save you a lot of money and a lot of anxiety down the line. Whether you have faced bankruptcy in the past or are new to the credit arena, this podcast will teach you what you need to know to master the credit game.

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Your score could benefit from this credit reporting change

This post originally appeared April 20, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Will removal of civil judgments boost my credit score?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I have a 5-year-old civil judgment for an unpaid credit card debt on my credit report. I recently read about a new law that will force the credit bureaus to remove judgments and tax liens from credit reports. Is this true? And if so, how much will my credit score benefit from that judgment being gone? – Jake

Dear Jake,
Yes, some new credit reporting practices on the horizon could affect your credit reports and scores. Most notably, beginning July 1, 2017, and arising largely from the 2015 National Consumer Assistance Plan, the big three national credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – will only be allowed to add tax liens and civil judgments to your credit report if they include a name, an address and either a date of birth or Social Security number.

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Get the most bang for your monthly payment buck

This post originally appeared April 13, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘How and when to pay new cards to boost credit score

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I have a couple of open credit card accounts that, in my mind, should be paid off as soon as possible. However, I’ve been advised that leaving them open, paying a little more than the minimum due and paying a few days earlier than the due date each month will increase my credit score. It was further explained that anything less than a year of credit reporting is not beneficial. I can pay off my store card account next month (and was planning to do so), but was advised to leave it open until at least September, which was when the account was opened. Which would you recommend for the best result and outcome for me? – McLean

Dear McLean,
I hope you don’t mind me using your excellent question to point out how the truth about credit scoring is often mixed with some long-held misconceptions. When acted on, these misconceptions can not only prevent your score from rising, but actually send it down.

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