As a capable adult, you’d like to think you know what affects your credit score, right?
Yet a survey released last year by the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore Solutions showed that while the majority of respondents understood the basics of credit scores, many did not understand credit score details with important cost implications.
And some of those details are pretty important. For example, the survey found that only 22 percent of people knew how much a low credit score could cost them. This is concerning since a low credit score, according to the survey, “Typically increases the cost of a $20,000, 60-month auto loan by more than $5,000.”
Therefore, if you find yourself unsure of what those details are – or hear a lot of conflicting information – listen up. Here are 10 things that in fact do not affect your credit score.
10 things that don’t affect your credit score
1. How much money you make
While income is a relevant data point for lenders reviewing an application for credit, it’s not a data point that can influence your credit score. After all, it’s not a reflection of your credit behavior.
Let’s put to rest the idea that earning a high income results in a good credit score and a low income results in a low credit score. How you use your credit is ultimately what affects your credit score – not how much money you make.
2. Where you make your money
Similar to your income, where you earn your money does not affect your credit score. That means your credit is not affected by your day job, your side hustles, or your passive income.
3. Your assets
So far we’ve talked about how your pay and employer don’t impact your credit score. The same goes with your assets.
In short, the income you have coming in, whether it’s from your job, an inheritance, or assets, does nothing to influence your credit score.
However, you may be asked to provide information about your assets when you apply for credit with some lenders.
4. How you spend your cash
Have you noticed a lot of advice on credit scores telling you to get a credit card? That’s because your credit isn’t tracked if you don’t have any to speak of.
So while you could be a total money master, it won’t make a difference to your credit score if you’re only using cash. Whether you’re a pro at managing cash or letting it burn a hole in your pocket, your behaviors with it are not factors that affect your credit score.
5. Your debit card
The relationship between debit and credit cards can be confusing, especially since debit cards offer an option to choose “credit” at the point of purchase. But let’s be clear, your debit card is basically the equivalent of using cash.
Even if you choose “credit” at the swipe, your debit card is eventually pulling money from your bank account. The difference between choosing “debit” or “credit” on a debit card is simply a difference in who processes the transaction and when that money is pulled out of your account.
Since debit cards use your cash and don’t give you access to a line of credit, they are not factors that affect your credit score.
6. Where you live
Your place of residence does not influence your credit score, but this is information you’ll likely have to give a creditor when applying for new credit.
7. Your demographics
Here’s a biggie: your race, color, religion, heritage, gender, and marital status are not factors that can affect your credit score.
According to MyFico, laws mandate that this information is not factored in:
“US law prohibits credit scoring from considering these facts, as well as any receipt of public assistance, or the exercise of any consumer right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.”
8. Government assistance
If you receive public benefits such as welfare or food stamps, or if you live in public housing, these are not factors that can affect your credit score.
9. Non-credit-based financial obligations
Insurance payments, taxes, child support, and alimony – these are all financial obligations but they aren’t the same as credit being lent to you. Therefore, these are not factors that affect your credit score.
However, if you fail to meet these obligations and that leads to a judgment against you or an account sent to collections, then your credit score is affected. Judgments and collections are things that can stay on your credit report for years.
Therefore, you really don’t want to let your financial obligations slide, whether they’re credit-based or not.
10. Soft credit inquiries
Remember, not all credit inquiries affect your score.
Hard credit inquiries, which are the result of submitting an application for credit, appear on your credit score. Soft credit inquiries, which are the result of lenders preliminarily reviewing you as a candidate for credit (with or without your knowledge) do not affect your credit score.
Soft credit inquiries can also happen if you check your own credit score or credit report. Since this is an act of simply reviewing your information without applying for new credit, your credit score will never take a hit for it.
A credit score only reflects how you use credit
As you think about the factors that can affect your credit score, remember that your credit score is not a reflection of your full financial picture. It’s a reflection of how well you manage the money you borrow on credit.
If you fear that every financial step you take will hurt your score, rest easy. The factors that affect your credit score are essentially things like your payment history, your credit utilization, the age of your accounts, your credit mix, and hard credit inquiries. These factors show lenders whether you are responsible or not with your credit. And in the end, that’s basically all they need to know.
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|Lender||Rates (APR)||Loan Amount|
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