Do you Know the Score on your Credit Report

By: Jon Arnold

Even some celebrities get their credit card declined sometimes, which is embarrassing for them since they are always in the public spotlight, but that does not mean that this is any less embarrassing when it happens to us when we go to pay for something. Research has shown that in the last six month, more than 4 million credit card bills have missed their payment dates.

It should be obvious that if you have been granted credit privileges with a credit card issuer, you need to make the payments every month on time, and not doing so will lead to more serious problems and embarrassment for you. But one question that people may have is why do they get turned down for credit in the first place?

You know the score at the ball game but are you equally familiar with your credit score? If not, don't be alarmed since most people do not. But you need to know that being very aware of your credit score is much more important than knowing the score at last night's ball game.

If you have been turned down for a credit card, a loan, or a mortgage, the reason is almost certainly due to your credit score. This is a number that is calculated by the credit reporting agencies that is a reflection of how well and how timely you pay your bills every month. It is a historical number, so it reflects trends. If you missed a couple of payments a few years ago but have been on time since, that will not do nearly as much damage as if you have starting missing payments over the past few recent months.

This credit score is used by the lender to determine if you are too high of a risk to issue credit to. One of the interesting things to note here is that of the three major credit reporting agencies, which are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, each of them has calculated a different credit score for you. That is because some lenders report to one of them and some report to another, so none of the three probably have a complete and true picture of your credit history.

Your credit score will be calculated low if it shows that you have a record of late payments, but if all your payments are up to date and you have a consistent record of paying on time, your score should be higher. More serious problems, such as a court judgment or a bankruptcy will also tend to lower your credit score, as well as being a huge red flag to the potential lender.

Other factors involved in computing your credit score are how long you have lived at your current address, how long you have been at the same job or with, as well as how close to your credit limit you typically keep your credit cards at. People who own their homes instead of renting typically get a higher score too.

If you have had credit for many years as opposed to only having a year or two of credit history, that counts in your favor. But if you have too many accounts open, compared to your income level, that counts against you, where the theory is that you could go out and charge those accounts to the max, which would be a higher risk for them in opening yet another account.

The biggest problem with your credit score, and most consumers are not aware of this, is that there is a strong possibility that your credit report contains errors. Perhaps information was reported to the credit bureau incorrectly. For this reason, you should get a copy of your credit report from each agency at least annually, and if you discover errors, you need to dispute the item so it will be removed from your credit report, and will likely cause your credit score to be calculated higher.

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