Credit Score And Credit Report Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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1. I have a SSN for one year. Does that mean one-year credit history?

No. The length of your credit history depends on your payment and statement, and it is unrelated with your SSN. In other words, your credit will be recorded with or without a SSN. However, your credit record will be linked up with your SSN for convenient query, if you do have a SSN.

2. I don’t have a SSN. Does that mean my debt doesn’t need to be paid off?

As mentioned above, your credit is unrelated with SSN status. And under most circumstances, you credit report can be easily identified in credit bureaus by searching with “Name + Gender + Date of birth (DOB)” approach. Therefore, you have to pay off your debt anyway.

3. Is it necessary for me to update credit bureaus after getting my SSN?

No, it isn’t necessary. All you need is to update your bank, and your bank will take care of the rest for you. Once receiving documents from your bank, credit bureaus will link your credit up with your SSN.

4. How is my credit score calculated?

Briefly, credit score is calculated based on your credit report and certain score model.

All three major credit bureaus in U.S. have their own copy of your credit report. Your credit score is then calculated by applying certain model to your report. However, there may be some variations among your three copies of reports. And a wide range of models used by these credit reporting agencies may even add up to the differences in final scores. Hence, it makes sense to specify both the credit bureau and the score model used when talking about your credit scores. Generally, FICO is the most recognized model.

5. Where could I get my free credit report and credit score?

Click How to Get Free Credit Reports And Scores for further information.

6. Does adding an authorized user help build credit?

Well, the answer is that it depends. Some banks may use score models that taking the payment of authorized users into consideration, while others may not.

It is notable that FICO 8 Score, the currently most widely used calculation model, is a good example of the former ones. However, banks have their own evaluation systems for applicant potentials in addition to FICO score. It is still not clear how banks judge the authorized users’ contribution to the credit of primary account holder.

If you are concerning about your authorized user’s irrational spending, you’d better request credit bureaus to remove the authorized user from your credit report without canceling your card.

7. What should I do to increase my credit score rapidly?

Actually, there is no shortcut. You shall pay off your debt on time and make sure that your credit utilization ratio is lower than 10%. You may even go further by stopping new card application.

Improve your credit by keeping an eye on your payment history, amount of debt and credit utilization ratio, three largest factors in determining your credit score.

8. Which is more important, the total utilization rate or the utilization rate of individual accounts?

The truth is that the total utilization rate accounts more. However, you’d better play safe by keeping a low utilization rate of your individual accounts. If you fail, remember to try to manage a low total utilization rate, because a bad total rate will have incredible negative impact on your score. But don’t be over concerned, you credit score will return next month if you pay more attention to your debt.

9. It is said that frequent new card applications will have negative impacts on credit score, is it true?

Generally speaking, too many hard pulls and new accounts in a short time result in lower credit score. This is especially true if you don’t have a long-established credit history.

And here are the reasons. Hard pulls should be indicated in the New Credit Opened category of your credit report, which accounts for 10% of your credit score. And how recently you opened a new account will lower the average age of your accounts. Therefore, your score is greatly impacted. However, this negative impact is largely reduced with a solid credit profile, which can be achieved by paying off in time, keeping utilization rate low and staying with your older accounts.

But we do recommend you think it twice before applying for a new card. This is especially true if you are just entering into the industry. In this case, an established credit history is your priority.

10. Does canceling credit cards impact my credit score?

Yes. The close of some cards leads to a lower credit limit, which may cause a temporary increase in your utilization rate. And a higher utilization rate may in turn hurt your score. However, your score will return after you manage to keep a low utilization rate again.

In addition, you are jeopardizing your relationship with the banks by closing too many cards. It is kind of tricky to persuade the banks into providing you a new credit card with your credit history like this.

11. Why is it said that “Don’t close one’s first card”?

It is easier to understand if stated as “Don’t close your oldest credit card account”. Closing out old credit cards shortens your credit history because it is the largest factor in determining your average age of account. However, your oldest account will be less important when you have a long establish credit history. And you may close it up then.

12. What should I do when there is a substantial drop in my credit score?

Please refer to our previous post What Should I Do If My Credit Score Drops?.

13. Why do different bureaus have different scores?

One explanation may be that the three major bureaus have different credit report data. In fact, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion have their own copy of your credit report. Your creditors and lenders might report certain data only to one or two of the credit bureaus. So, your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit reports might all look different from each other. For instance, more hard pulls are indicated on my Experian report compared with Experian, and TransUnion reports.

However, it is worth your attention when there is a large difference between the scores. Get all three detailed copies of your credit reports through agencies or websites and compare them side-by-side. You may have to contact your bureau or collectors if you feel there are some errors on one of your credit reports.

14. Why do different websites have different credit scores?

Websites tend to have their own preferences on credit reports. For instance, the calculation on creditreport.com is based on Experian reports, while Credit Karma use TransUnion and Equifax reports. In addition, websites may adopt different score models. Be aware of unrecognized models used by some free websites.

Considering the two factors above, it is acceptable to have different scores at different website. If you are skeptical about certain score, try to identify the FICO score of three bureaus. Laugh at it if the FICO scores seem OK. If not, refer to Question 13.

15. Does car loan impact credit score?

There is no need to worry about it. Although car loan may result in hard pulls, these hard pulls rarely account for a large percentage in score calculation. Typically, they can be safety ignored in 6 months.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. We are more than glad to help you out.


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