Financial and lending institutions use credit scores to determine how likely someone is to repay a loan. According to FICO, the average credit score in the United States stands at 716, but that number varies significantly by state. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and each number corresponds to a different level of credit risk.
A high credit score means you’re a low-risk borrower, which could lead to lower interest rates on loans and other lines of credit. On the other hand, low credit scores could mean higher interest rates and a greater chance of not being approved for a loan.
While most people know they have credit scores, they may not understand why these score numbers matter or how they are determined. Read on as we explore how different credit score ranges map to financial situations and tips on how you can improve your credit score.
What Credit Score Ranges Should Mean To You
Different credit score ranges correspond to varying levels of risk. Knowing your credit score is incredibly helpful when it comes to determining whether you will qualify for a loan or credit card.
Credit card companies and lenders use credit scores to determine your loan qualification, credit limit, and applicable interest rate. Lenders often give more appealing interest rates to people with high credit scores because there is a lower chance of the debt not being repaid by the borrower.
Since people with low credit scores are considered high-risk borrowers, they may have trouble getting approved for various financial products, including personal and credit cards. As a result, they could be charged higher interest rates or denied credit entirely.
What Are the Credit Score Ranges?
Credit scoring companies like FICO use multiple credit scoring models to determine your credit score. FICO scores dominate the market, and the most popular versions range from 300-850, with each number indicating how likely you are to be a responsible borrower. Below are the different credit score ranges and what they represent financially:
Commonly used FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850.
Consumers with exceptional credit scores have consistently excellent credit usage behavior. They have low balances on their credit card accounts, maintain their credit utilization ratios around 10% or lower, and have a long history (decades) of on-time monthly payments. Borrowers within this range are offered higher credit limits and can qualify for lower rates on personal loans, credit cards, lines of credit, and mortgages.
The highest possible credit score you can have on the FICO scoring system is 850. While it is possible to obtain a perfect 850 credit score, it is not necessary to do so in order to get the best credit offers, nor is it a practical goal. Getting an 850 credit score requires that every single credit scoring factor must be perfect, which is simply not possible for most consumers.
Consumers with credit score ranges that are very good or exceptional will get the best interest rates on mortgages and other loans.
Very Good 740-799
A score between 740 and 799 is in the very good credit range. These borrowers generally have good financial responsibility regarding credit and money management. They have lower credit utilization ratios, a good history of on-time payments, and few derogatory marks on their credit reports.
Most lenders are still comfortable extending lines of credit to these borrowers, so people within this range are likely to get approved for loans and other products with favorable interest rates.
A FICO score falling between 670 and 739 is considered a good credit score. The national average credit score stands in this range. This score indicates that you have generally been responsible with credit in the past and paid your bills on time. You may qualify for average rates, but it may become more difficult to be approved for some types of credit. You’ll likely have to shop around in order to find the best interest rates.
Individuals with credit scores within this range are below the national average and may have negative marks on their credit reports. If you have a FICO score in this range, you’ve likely missed payments or shown signs of high credit usage and delinquencies. This means you may not qualify for some types of credit, such as loans or credit cards. Few lenders will likely extend a credit line to you but offer high-interest rates.
This range is the lowest credit score rating on credit reports and is considered to be very bad credit. People with a FICO score in this range are seen as high-risk borrowers and may be unable to get approved for loans, lines of credit, or mortgages. They have several cases of missed payments, high balances, and high credit utilization ratios. Poor credit scores may also result from filing bankruptcy or having debt in collections.
“Credit invisibles” are those who do not have a credit score, which can be equally as problematic as having bad credit.
No Credit Score
It is possible to not have a credit score at all, which is known as being credit invisible. If you haven’t had a loan or credit card for several years, your credit score may not be able to be calculated because there is insufficient information on your credit reports.
Lenders may still allow you access to credit based on your other assets, but it usually requires additional verification of your assets and income.
How To Build Credit & Earn A Better Credit Score
Building and improving your credit score can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Your credit score will increase your access to financing products with lower interest rates and fees on everything from loans to mortgages. Below are some tips that can help improve your score:
Make all of your monthly payments on time – One of the most significant factors that go into calculating your credit score is your payment history. A history of on-time payments will help boost your credit score. If you miss payments, this can be reported to credit reporting agencies and damage your credit score.
Pay more than the minimum payment – By only making the minimum payment each month, you make it easier for yourself to accumulate more and more debt. Not paying your balance in full also increases your utilization ratio, which impacts your score negatively the higher your utilization becomes. Focus on paying off as much of the balance as possible each month.
Keep credit card balances low – Again, carrying large balances negatively impacts your credit score, so it is important to consistently keep your balances low if you can. If you have large outstanding credit card balances on your accounts compared to your available credit, lenders are also more reluctant to give you a new line of credit because they may view you as financially over-extended.
Keeping your credit cards open while maintaining low balances helps your credit utilization and, by extension, your credit score.
Keep your credit cards open – Closing a credit card account can hurt your credit score because you no longer get the benefit of its credit limit. Keeping your credit cards open even if you are not using them much allows the cards to help out your credit utilization metrics, boosting your credit scores.
Only apply for credit when you need it – Each time you apply for a new loan or credit card, lenders check your credit report, which results in a hard inquiry being added to your credit report. Having too many hard inquiries within the past year can impact your score negatively. If lenders see a lot of inquiries in your credit history, they may be concerned that you are taking on too much new debt and might not be able to make all of your payments on time.
Why You Should Never Trust a CPN to Boost a Credit Score Range
If you’re looking to boost or reset your credit score and come across a company that offers Credit Privacy Numbers (CPN), it’s best to stay away. A CPN is a nine-digit fake or stolen Social Security number that credit repair companies sell to people who want to repair their credit scores.
These companies instruct you to use the CPN in place of your Social Security Number when applying for credit. CPNs are generated randomly or stolen Social Security numbers, mostly from children, inmates, and senior citizens. Using a CPN is illegal, and when caught, you can face a hefty fine or even jail time.
Using a CPN instead of a stolen Social Security number, you may be committing an identity theft crime. Depending on your state and the statute of limitations, you could be jailed for a maximum of 15 years and face thousands in fines. Using a CPN to reset or boost your credit score is not worth the risk.
7 Fast Credit Building Strategies to Influence Your Credit Score Range
Credit scores have become an essential part of today’s society. It’s no longer just used for loan applications. Employers and landlords may also ask to review your credit score or credit history. In some cases, you may not get access to housing, utilities, or insurance if you have a low credit score.
If your credit score isn’t your ideal number, or is below the average credit score, there are several things you can do to help increase it. Here are seven fast strategies to help improve your credit score range:
1. Develop Your Credit File
Creating a positive credit file is the first step in building credit. This can be done by opening a credit line that is reported to the major credit bureaus. If you make on-time monthly payments and keep your revolving utilization ratio below 30%, this demonstration of good credit behavior will increase your credit score and, in turn, boost your credit score range. Higher credit scores will open doors to better financing options and lower rates.
2. Check Your Credit Reports
When building your credit score range, it’s critical to check your credit reports to know where you stand.
As mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can get your credit report for free once a year from each of the three credit bureaus. Additionally, during the COVID pandemic, the credit bureaus have volunteered to provide free credit reports to everyone on a weekly basis. This
Review each credit report for inaccurate information and dispute errors as necessary.
3. Dispute Credit Report Errors
Your credit score can be significantly lowered if your credit report contains erroneous negative items. However, the credit bureaus can be contacted if any errors are found. Your dispute letter must be investigated and responded to by the credit bureau within 30 days. If you find the information to be inaccurate, you can request that it be removed or corrected on your credit report.
4. Pay Your Bills on Time
Payment history is the most critical factor in your credit score, accounting for 35% of your score. No credit-building strategy will be effective if you do not consistently pay your bills on time. Late payments can remain on your credit report for up to seven years.
If you do this successfully, having a long history of on-time bill payments will help you achieve excellent credit scores. To avoid accidental missing or late payments, you can set up reminder notifications and automatic bill payments with your lenders.
5. Increase Your Credit Limit
Paying off credit cards and other revolving accounts may help boost your credit score range, but having a high amount of available credit will add points to your score. Consider increasing the limit on your lines of credit to decrease your utilization ratio. An ideal time to do this is after building up a history of responsible credit usage or when you have started a better-paying job.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, your payment history, credit mix, debt owed, and length of your credit history are some important credit factors a credit card issuer will look at when determining your credit limits.
6. Catch Up on Delinquencies and Past Due Accounts
If you have missed payments in the past, try to resolve them as soon as possible. Bringing your delinquent accounts current will help improve your credit score, and paying off collections may help your score depending on which credit scoring model is used.
Since most negative information like late payments remains on your credit report for seven years, it’s important to start repairing your credit history as soon as possible.
If you have trouble with credit card debt, consider talking to a credit counselor to create a debt management plan. They may be able to negotiate lower monthly payments and interest with your creditors and help you pay off old collection accounts faster. Some may even work to get these negative marks removed from your report.
7. Get a Secured Credit Card
If you are just starting out or have had credit problems in the past, applying for a secured card can help you improve your credit score. When you apply for a secured card, you make a security deposit that the issuer will use as collateral if you are unable to pay.
Monthly payments on a secured credit card will help build your credit score. You should look for secured cards that report to all three major credit bureaus in order to take advantage of the credit-building benefits of credit cards.
The Dollar Differences in Credit Score Ranges
The difference between good credit and bad credit can add up to thousands of dollars of interest over your lifetime.
The higher your credit score range, the less risk you pose to lenders and the more likely you are to be approved for a loan with a lower interest rate.
For this reason, having a good credit score can save you thousands of dollars in interest costs.
However, those with low credit scores will have trouble getting approved for a loan, and those who do may be required to pay a higher interest rate to offset the increased risk of lending. Therefore, having a low credit score means you pay more for financing big-ticket items like a car or a home.
Why You Should Share What You Learned About a Credit Score’s Range
Sharing your knowledge about credit score ranges will help people understand the importance of maintaining a good credit score. To get financing for big-ticket items or a dream home, your credit score must reflect your financial responsibility. In the long run, consumers will save money and have easier access to credit when they have a history of good credit habits.
For lenders to feel confident that you are financially responsible, you should maintain a good credit mix of accounts including a checking account, savings account, and an investment portfolio.
Follow the credit tips above, such as maintaining a low credit utilization rate, making on-time payments, and not opening too many accounts at one time so that you can maintain a good credit score.
Conclusions on Credit Score Ranges
It’s important to understand credit score ranges and realize that they are a reflection of your creditworthiness.
Positive credit habits can open doors to financial opportunities that you would not be able to access otherwise, so start building up your credit history and credit scores now. Finally, make sure to keep up your good credit habits consistently to set yourself up for financial success in the future.
Derogatory entries on your credit report, such as 30-day late payments, 60-day late payments, collections, and more, can seriously damage your credit score. Is there a way to get derogatory items removed from your credit report so that your score can bounce back? Let’s find out.
What Are Derogatory Entries on Your Credit Reports?
The term derogatory simply means negative, so derogatory items on your credit report are any items that reflect negatively on your credit. In other words, they indicate that you have failed to make timely payments on your debt.
Derogatory entries can be divided into two categories: minor derogatories and major derogatories. They both can hurt your credit substantially and contribute to bad credit, but major derogatory items have a greater negative impact on your credit score than minor derogatory items.
Examples of Derogatory Items on Your Credit Reports Minor Derogatory Entries
30-day late payments 60-day late payments
Major Derogatory Entries
90, 120, 150-day late payments, etc. Charge-offs Collections Foreclosures Settlements Short sales Repossessions Public records (bankruptcies)
A bankruptcy on your credit report counts as a major derogatory entry.
The Good News: You Can Dispute Inaccurate Derogatory Information on Your Credit Reports
As a consumer, you have the right to have your credit reports be accurate, as dictated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Therefore, if there is information on your credit reports that is wrong, then you have the right to ask for the incorrect information to be either corrected or removed from your credit reports.
In order to challenge inaccurate information on your credit reports, you can file a direct dispute with the party that furnishes your data to the credit bureaus (e.g. a lender, financial services company, debt collector, etc.) or an indirect dispute with the credit reporting agencies (CRAs).
If you choose to go the route of an indirect dispute, you contact the CRAs about the problematic information and they then investigate the dispute with the company that is furnishing the data.
You can use either type of dispute to ask for the inaccurate derogatory information on your credit report to be corrected or deleted altogether.
The Bad News: You Do Not Have the Right to Have Accurate Negative Information Removed From Your Credit Reports
According to the FCRA, accurate and verifiable negative information can remain on your credit reports for up to seven years.
Unfortunately, that means if the derogatory information on your credit reports is accurate and verifiable, then the CRAs are under no obligation to remove it before the 7-year clock runs out.
Derogatory information that is accurate and verifiable can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
How to Dispute Derogatory Entries on Your Credit Reports
It is free to dispute inaccurate information on your credit reports, and you can do this process yourself. Another option is to hire a reputable credit repair company to do this work on your behalf.
If you choose to complete the dispute process yourself, you can do this in a few different ways:
Go to the CRAs’ websites and file your dispute online
Mail your dispute through the postal services Contact the CRAs over the phone Dispute the information directly with the furnishing party
You can submit your disputes online on the CRAs’ websites.
Which Dispute Method is Most Effective?
While there is not necessarily a “best” way to file a dispute, often, plaintiff’s lawyers advise consumers to file their disputes with the credit bureaus because this method may leave you in a better positioned to take legal action if the credit bureaus fail to remove the incorrect information.
The Benefits of Disputing Directly With the Furnishing Party
When you file a direct dispute with the company that is furnishing the inaccurate information to the credit bureaus, you are addressing the information at its source. For this reason, the data furnisher has an obligation to correct the error with all of the CRAs they report to.
If a mistake is showing up on more than one of your credit reports, the direct dispute strategy can save you some time since you are only filing one dispute to have the information corrected on each of your credit reports where it is applicable.
Working With a Credit Repair Company to Remove Derogatory Information
Although the consumer credit dispute process is free to use, some consumers may choose to work with a credit repair company to accomplish their goals.
In this case, the credit repair company goes through the dispute process on your behalf.
While a credit repair organization cannot charge you in advance of providing a service as per the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), if they successfully get the information corrected or removed, they can then charge you for this service that has been fully performed.
How Do You Know if You Need to Dispute Incorrect Information on Your Credit Reports?
To find out if there are errors on your credit reports, you need to get copies of your own reports.
Typically, you can do this for free once every 12 months with each of the three credit bureaus. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRAs have made it easier to check your credit more often by making it free to check your credit reports every week until April 20, 2022.
To order your free credit reports, go to annualcreditreport.com, which is the only website that is federally authorized to provide your free credit reports, and request them there.
How Long Does the Dispute Resolution Process Take?
The credit bureaus are technically allowed to take 30 days to complete their dispute investigation process, but this rule is decades old. These days, with the technology we have now, it is more likely that your dispute will be resolved in only 10-14 days.
Consumer disputes are usually resolved within two weeks.
We hope this article has been informative for those wondering about how to get derogatory information removed from your credit reports! To learn more about how to use credit report disputes effectively, check out our article on How to Fix the Most Common Credit Report Errors.
Want to see the video version of this article, featuring credit expert John Ulzheimer? Watch it below and then subscribe to our channel on YouTube to see more helpful videos about the credit system!
The “date of last activity,” also known as the DLA, is often discussed within the field of credit repair in a way that is inaccurate or misleading. Because of this, many consumers do not understand the true significance (or lack thereof) of the DLA as it relates to their credit reports and credit scores.
The date of last activity is exactly what it sounds like: it is the most recent date on which activity was reported for an account.
It is a “legacy” data point that used to be included on credit reports for users (lenders), but this is not the case anymore, In fact, DLAs have not been shown on credit reports for lenders in decades, according to John.
Why Does a DLA Appear on Your Credit Report?
If John is saying that DLAs do not appear on credit reports, then why do you see DLAs when you pull your own credit report?
When you check your own credit report from annualcreditreport.com or from the credit bureaus, you are actually looking at a credit report disclosure.
Disclosures are provided to consumers and presented in a format that consumers can understand.
This is not the same as the version of your credit report that lenders see, and it contains different types of information, such as DLAs, that may be helpful to you as a consumer.
Real credit reports are written in code using software known as Metro 2 and these documents are provided to “users” such as lenders, insurance companies, collection agencies, credit unions, credit card issuers, and mortgage brokers.
Actual credit reports do not contain DLAs. If you were to search the Credit Reporting Resource Guide (CRRG), which is essentially the Metro 2 manual, you would not find any information about DLAs because they do not exist within this credit reporting system.
Credit reports provided to lenders are communicated using the Metro 2 language.
Conclusion: Do DLAs Affect Your Credit?
You can rest assured that you do not need to worry about DLAs as they pertain to your credit reports and your credit scores (although they may be important for legal reasons, such as determining the statute of limitations for old debts).
Since DLAs do not appear on your actual credit reports that your credit scores are based on, they cannot impact your credit.
If you’d like to watch the video version of this post, hit play below. You can find the rest of our Credit Countdown videos over on YouTube!
The NFCC often receives readers questions asking us what they should do in their money situation. We pick some to share that others could be asking themselves and hope to help many in sharing these answers. If you have a question, please submit it on our Ask an Expert page here.
This week’s question: I have received a settlement offer on an old credit card debt from years ago when I was out of work. Would it be better to let it fall off after the six-year statute in Arizona? I am in great financial health and this is the only bad mark on my credit.
Based on the question, it appears that you are taking extra care to make the best decision regarding your credit health. For that, I applaud your efforts to research the facts. Sometimes an offer to settle a debt can lead to a hasty decision that may not always be best. Let’s take a moment to examine all of the elements to consider before rendering a decision that will impact your financial future, one way or another.
Deal or No Deal
First, there’s the settlement itself. Settling your account is commonly viewed by lenders as being less favorable than paying the balance in full. If reported accurately following the settlement, the account status would appear as “settled for less than the full balance” on your credit report. When it comes to the credit score impact of settling or paying a collection account, the answer depends on the scoring model being used. More recent versions of FICO® and VantageScore® won’t factor collection accounts that have a zero balance. That seems like great news, but some lenders use older versions when reviewing loan applications for approval. This is most commonly the case when applying for a mortgage. In those situations, your credit score will not likely experience the same lift.
Running Out the Clock
Apart from the settlement, there’s the matter of the account’s age. We have addressed the topic of the statute of limitations and time-barred debts in previous posts, but I can’t place enough emphasis on the wild card variable that involves the debt collector’s decision to escalate the account. Having worked as a debt collector in the past, I am quite familiar with the process of evaluating unpaid accounts for escalation before the clock runs out. In Arizona, the timer starts when the account charges off. That means the debt collector is now asking that you pay the entire balance in full. For that specific state, you are correct that the statute of limitations is six years.
Will They or Won’t They
If they know where you live and work, and if they determine that the unpaid balance of the account is sufficient enough, they may decide that it is worth the effort to file a case in civil court in pursuit of a judgment against you for the amount of the debt plus interest and court costs. Again, this is also driven by how much time is left on the clock. If the court decides in their favor, they could proceed to recover the balance through legal processes allowed in your state. In Arizona, for example, wage garnishment is allowed at one-quarter of your non-exempt weekly paycheck or an amount of your weekly earnings that are greater than 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is the lessor of the two. There are other factors influencing wage garnishment in Arizona, and the rules for other states vary, so it’s always a good idea to check with an attorney to confirm what might directly impact your situation.
Ultimately, the decision on the next steps rests in your hands, but whatever you decide should leave no room for surprises. That’s why I would recommend spending a little time consulting a nonprofit credit counselor for a more detailed and personalized review of your situation. Armed with their advice and what you have learned through your own research, you would be in a much better position to make the most informed choice for yourself. Good luck with your next steps!
One question we often hear in the tradeline industry is “Do tradelines still work in 2021?”
Fortunately, we can say with certainty that tradelines do still work in 2021, and we are confident they will continue to be effective for years to come.
To explain our answer, we will delve into the history of authorized user tradelines and the policies that regulate the tradeline industry.
Why Do Tradelines Work?
Although the term “tradeline” could refer to any account in your credit file, usually in our industry people use the word as shorthand for authorized user tradelines, or accounts on which you are an authorized user.
Credit card companies allow cardholders to add authorized users (AUs) to their accounts, which are people who are authorized to use the account but are not liable for any charges incurred. For example, a business owner could add an employee as an AU of their credit card, or a parent could add their child.
When someone is added as an AU, often the full history of the account is shown in the credit reports of both the primary user and the AU, regardless of when the AU was added to the account. Therefore, the AU may have years of credit history associated with the account reflected in their file as soon as they are added.
This is why obtaining an AU tradeline through a family member or friend is a common way for people to start establishing a credit history. In fact, studies estimate that 20%-30% of Americans have at least one AU account.
Why are authorized users able to share the benefits of the primary user’s credit rating, even though they are not liable for the debt? This policy is a result of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 (ECOA).
Before ECOA was passed, creditors would often report accounts shared by married couples as being only in the husband’s name. This prevented women from building up a credit history and credit score rating in their own names, which in turn prevented them from being able to obtain credit independent of their husbands.
In response to this unequal treatment, ECOA was passed to prohibit discrimination in lending. The federal law made it illegal for creditors to discriminate on the basis of sex, marital status, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or receipt of public assistance.
This means that creditors may not consider this information when deciding whether or not to grant credit to an applicant or determining the terms of the credit.
ECOA was passed in large part to prevent creditors from discriminating against women and to provide equal credit opportunities to women.
Regulation B is a section of ECOA that specifically requires that creditors report spousal AU accounts to the credit bureaus and consider them when lenders evaluate a consumer’s credit history.
Generally, creditors do not distinguish between AUs that are spouses and those that are not when reporting to the credit bureaus, which effectively requires the credit bureaus to treat all AU accounts in the same way.
As a result of this policy, the practice of “piggybacking credit” emerged as a common and acceptable way for individuals with good credit to help their spouses, children, and loved ones build credit or improve their credit.
The practice of piggybacking is the foundation of the tradeline industry. In a piggybacking arrangement, a consumer pays a fee to “rent” an authorized user position on someone else’s tradeline. The age and payment history of that tradeline then show up on the consumer’s credit report as an authorized user account.
Are Tradelines Legal?
It is understandable that there is some confusion about this since not many people are aware of the idea of tradelines for sale, although the practice has been in use for decades.
While Tradeline Supply Company, LLC cannot provide legal advice, we can refer to several official sources, including the Federal Trade Commission, who have indicated that it is legal to buy and sell tradelines.
While tradelines are not illegal, historically, they have not been accessible to everyone. The high cost of tradelines meant that only the wealthy could afford to purchase tradelines for credit piggybacking. Today, however, innovations in the industry have lowered the cost of tradelines, making them affordable to a much wider audience.
Tradeline Supply Company, LLC is proud to be leading the tradeline industry in automating the process of buying and selling tradelines, offering some of the lowest tradeline prices in the industry, educating consumers on the credit system, and making tradelines accessible to everyone.
Our goal is to provide equal opportunities to those who do not have access to authorized user tradelines through friends and family by providing an online platform that allows for a greater network of connections.
But Didn’t Credit Card Piggybacking Get Banned?
Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), the creator of the widely used FICO credit score, did try to change its scoring model to eliminate the benefits of authorized user tradelines, although they were ultimately unsuccessful. The firm announced that they were planning to devise a way to allow “real” AUs to keep the benefits of their AU tradelines while at the same time discounting the value of AU tradelines for consumers who FICO deemed to be “gaming the system.”
FICO admitted to Congress that they could not legally discriminate between AUs based on marital status due to ECOA.
While this statement understandably caused a lot of concern among consumers of tradelines, as it turns out, FICO was never able to implement this change in their scoring system.
At a congressional hearing in 2008, Fair Isaac’s president admitted that they could not legally distinguish between spousal AUs and other users, because discriminating based on marital status would unlawfully violate ECOA.
After consulting with Congress and multiple federal agencies, FICO was blocked from discriminating against AU account holders. Consequently, all AU accounts are still being considered in FICO 8, the most widely used credit scoring model.
In addition, studies have shown that accounting for AU data helps make credit scoring models more accurate, so it is actually in FICO’s best interest to continue including all AU accounts in their credit scoring models.
In working with thousands of consumers over the years, our results prove that in 2021, AU tradelines still remain an effective way to add information to an individual’s credit report, regardless of the relationship between the primary user and the authorized user.
Here’s another piece of evidence that proves that authorized user tradelines still work in 2021: many banks actually promote the practice of becoming an authorized user for the specific purpose of boosting one’s credit score. To see this for yourself, all you need to do is go to any major bank’s website and search for “authorized user.” You are almost guaranteed to see several articles pop up that talk about becoming an authorized user in order to build a credit history.
How Do We Know Tradelines Will Continue to Work in the Future?
Most widely used credit scoring models still include authorized user “piggybacking” accounts.
Given that FICO has already targeted the tradeline industry before, it makes sense to wonder whether tradelines will still work in the years to come if FICO eventually does succeed in coming up with a way to discriminate against certain AUs.
Thankfully, we can rest assured in knowing that the tradeline business will be around for a long time. The reason that we can be sure of this is that the credit industry is extremely slow to adapt, so even if FICO were to roll out a new credit score model that can tell which AUs purchased their tradelines, it would take years, if not decades, for this new credit score to be adopted across the entire financial industry. Let us explain why this is the case.
Credit scoring is a complicated process, and all lenders have their own guidelines when it comes to underwriting. FICO has many different scoring models, and the specific versions used to evaluate credit applicants vary widely between different industries and even between individual lenders within the same industry.
Currently, the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) use the version called FICO 8, which debuted in 2008. Consequently, this is also the version that most lenders use for measuring consumer risk for various types of credit, such as personal loans, student loans, and retail credit cards.
However, according to FICO, the mortgage industry still relies on the much older FICO score models 2, 4, and 5. Auto lenders sometimes use FICO 8, while many still use FICO 2, 4, and 5. Credit card companies may use versions 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8.
As if this isn’t complicated enough, many lenders also use proprietary credit-scoring guidelines specific to their businesses. As FICO’s website says, “It is up to each lender to determine which credit score they will use and what other financial information they will consider in their credit review process.”
As you can see from the wide range of versions used, lenders are extremely slow to adapt to changes in FICO’s credit scoring model. In addition, their underwriting processes have been built around previous versions of FICO. All of the credit score data they have accumulated over time is only accurate for the particular version that was used to calculate it.
Transitioning to a completely new credit score model would require businesses to expend significant resources on updating their technological systems, collecting and analyzing new consumer data, training employees, and possibly incurring financial losses as a consequence of not being able to rely on the consumer data they collected while using older credit score models.
For these reasons, most lenders tend to be very reluctant to introduce the latest FICO credit scoring model.
Lenders use credit scoring models that are specific to their industries, so they tend to resist changing to newer models. Photo by InvestmentZen.
So, even if FICO were to successfully eliminate authorized user data in future credit scoring models, it is likely that it would take years or even decades for lenders to adapt to this change.
In addition, as the 2008 congressional hearing showed, FICO will face pushback from the federal government if they try to eliminate authorized user benefits again. It is highly unlikely that a large company like FICO would want to risk being shut down by the federal government for violating the law.
Consumers wouldn’t stand for it, either. In the Washington Post, J.W. Elphinstone wrote, “Other consumers besides credit renters stand to lose with the change, namely those for whom authorized user accounts were designed… there’s no way to distinguish these from the latest crop of strangers trying to augment their scores. Lenders who want to find out more information about others on credit card accounts are hindered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and privacy laws.”
When FICO took the issue of piggybacking all the way up to Congress in 2008, they made headlines in their fight against the practice.
This was also during the same time that the subprime mortgage meltdown began which preceded the Great Recession. The entire mortgage industry had to be overhauled and many people assumed that the tradeline industry went down along with it.
What did not make headlines is that FICO’s push to do away with the authorized user tradeline industry actually failed due to the government upholding ECOA and the FTC affirming that the practice of buying and selling tradelines is allowed.
With the recent killings of yet more Black people at the hands of police, the long-held rage and grief of America’s Black communities have boiled over into nationwide civil unrest and protests demanding justice, equality, and the end of police brutality.
As our nation collectively reckons with its history of slavery and its legacy of violence toward Black people that continues today, we want to shed some light on the economic inequalities faced by Black Americans.
We do not pretend to have all the answers or solutions to these large, structural issues that are deeply embedded within the fabric of American society. However, we feel that it is our responsibility to provide educational resources on these topics so that each citizen can understand the issues we are facing and make informed decisions about how to combat inequality in our own lives and in our society as a whole.
The Racial Wealth Gap
Get ready for this staggering statistic: according to data from the Federal Reserve, the typical Black household has only about 10 cents for every dollar of wealth held by the typical White household.
According to the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, Black Americans are more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as White Americans, with Black children, in particular, being three times as likely to live in poverty as White children.
Not only that, but the chasm between Black and White household wealth, instead of getting smaller, is actually getting wider and wider over time, even for Black Americans with higher education.
This chart from the Center for American Progress shows the racial wealth gap widening over time.
Origins of the Racial Wealth Disparity
The racial wealth gap in America has existed from the moment that the first Africans were taken from their land and brought to the colonies in 1619.
For over two and a half centuries, enslaved Black people were used as a source of wealth by White enslavers who claimed them as property, but they had no way of accumulating wealth for themselves. They were forced to work for nothing and were not allowed to keep any of the wealth they generated.
Even after slavery was legally abolished in 1865, that certainly did not create a level economic playing field.
For at least another century, various laws and policies continued to block Black people from attaining wealth, and discrimination is still pervasive today.
Government-Sanctioned Housing Discrimination
Take the National Housing Act of 1934, for example. Passed in the wake of the banking crisis that kicked off the Great Depression, this act created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The FHA made it easier for White Americans to afford homes by providing mortgage insurance to protect mortgage lenders from borrower defaults.
Unfortunately, the FHA outright refused to insure loans to Black consumers and even consumers who wanted to live in areas near Black neighborhoods. This practice of “redlining” not only restricted where Black families could buy homes, but it also affected the types of funding they could get and the terms of those loans. (Without FHA insurance, Black home buyers were forced to accept inflated prices and fees as well as predatory contracts pushed by deceitful contact sellers.)
Furthermore, it discouraged investment and development in primarily Black areas, which led to the decline of many communities and of property values in those areas.
While many White families were buying up houses using government-sponsored, low-interest mortgage loans, Black families did not have this luxury, which meant they were shut out of an important opportunity to accumulate wealth in the form of home equity.
Ultimately, the racial wealth gap cannot be explained or fixed by the behaviors or decisions of individual Black people. It is the result of 400 years of structural racism and oppression in America, and solving it likely requires dramatic and large-scale policy changes.
The Federal Housing Administration insured mortgages to help make it more affordable for consumers to obtain mortgages and purchase homes—but only for White Americans.
The rate of unemployment of Black people is twice as high as the unemployment rate of White people.
Racism and prejudice undoubtedly play a significant role in this, as research has shown that Black people today still face the same amount of hiring discrimination that they did in the 1980s.
The Center for American Progress wrote the following in 2011, when the economy was starting to slowly recover from the Great Recession; however, the information unfortunately still holds true today in 2020, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 recession:
“The unemployment rates for African Americans by gender, education, and age are much higher today than those of whites, and these unemployment rates for African Americans rose much faster than those for comparable groups of whites during and after the Great Recession. The unemployment rates for many black groups in fact continued to rise during the economic recovery while they started to drop for whites…It is now painfully clear that African Americans are still facing depression-like unemployment levels.”
“…there are unique structural obstacles that prevent African Americans from fully benefiting from economic and labor market growth—obstacles that deserve particular attention when unemployment rates for African Americans stand at the highest levels since 1984.”
In addition, Black workers are more likely than White workers to have low-wage jobs, which leads to Black families having lower average incomes than those of White families. White annual household incomes are about $29,000 higher than Black annual household incomes.
People of Color Are Bearing the Brunt of the Recession
It is impossible to ignore the effects of the economic recession that has begun as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately impacting Black and Hispanic communities, just like the Great Recession did in 2007 – 2009.
Pew Research Center reports that Hispanic and Black adults are being the most affected by the loss of millions of jobs due to the coronavirus.
This is primarily because people of color are overrepresented in many low-wage jobs within the industries that have had to shut down during the pandemic, such as food service, retail, and hospitality. These are also jobs that cannot be done remotely. Consequently, Black employees are especially vulnerable to being laid off.
Furthermore, not only are Black workers often the first to be let go during recessions, but they are often the last to be re-hired when the economy recovers. According to the Center for American Progress, it’s important to recognize “…that black labor market prospects are hit much harder by recessions and that it takes longer for African Americans to recover from an economic downturn.”
A study from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research on the impact of COVID-19 on small business owners revealed that the percentage of Black-owned small businesses that have been forced to close due to the pandemic (41%) is more than twice the percentage of White-owned businesses that have closed for the same reason (17%).
Evictions have been temporarily paused in many areas since many renters have lost their jobs during the pandemic and can not afford to pay rent. Once these eviction bans are lifted, however, it is predicted that Black and immigrant tenants will make up the majority of those displaced by the coming housing crisis.
According to Politico, “Black and Latino people are twice as likely to rent as white people, so they would be most endangered if the protection from removal is ended.” Furthermore, Black and Latino households usually spend a greater portion of their income on rent than White renters. Any disruption in income could spell disaster for these vulnerable groups of tenants.
Poor women of color, specifically, are much more vulnerable to eviction than any other demographic group, with one in 17 being evicted each year, compared to only one in 150 for poor White women.
The consequences of having an eviction on your record are severe. It can be nearly impossible to find safe and affordable housing since many landlords refuse to rent to tenants who have previously been evicted. This leads to many low-income Black women being forced into homelessness and dangerous living conditions.
If the landlord passes the bill for unpaid rent onto a debt collector, then it becomes a collection account, which shows up on your credit report and can heavily impact your credit for up to seven years. Similarly, if a landlord seeks a court judgment against you for unpaid rent, the judgment could appear in the public records section fn your credit report.
With less wealth and lower average incomes than White households, Black and Hispanic households are less equipped to weather financial emergencies without getting behind on bills, which is the number one cause of bad credit.
A recent Pew Research study determined nearly half of Black adults surveyed reported that they are worried about not being able to pay all of their bills over the next few months.
It is well known that many Black communities deal with higher pollution levels and “food deserts” where access to affordable, healthy foods is often not possible.
And since Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be in poverty than White Americans, they are therefore more likely to experience food insecurity, inadequate nutrition, a lack of healthcare, and the stress of constantly worrying about money on a daily basis.
All of the stressors listed above have been shown to have lifelong consequences on the physical and mental health of poor people, including strong negative effects on the immune system. This means low-income individuals (especially low-income people of color, who also suffer from the effects of “weathering”) are less able to fight off infections and more likely to live with various chronic illnesses that can make the coronavirus more deadly.
As we mentioned, Black workers are overrepresented in lower-wage jobs and more likely to get laid off, which puts them at risk of losing their health insurance coverage or, often, not even having access to health insurance in the first place.
When you put all of these factors together, it creates the perfect storm for Black individuals to get sick with COVID-19, suffer more severe complications that could lead to being hospitalized, and not have the resources to cover extremely expensive hospital stays.
Even if the illness is less severe for some, who may be able to recover after staying at home for a few weeks, they still have to deal with the high cost of missing work while sick and isolated at home. Losing out on even one paycheck can be devastating for low-income households who have not had the option of building up savings.
Naturally, when you combine serious illness with no health insurance and no safety net, the result is massive medical debt. Research has shown that Black Americans are 2.6 times more likely to have medical debt than White Americans and are also nearly twice as likely as White people to be contacted by debt collectors and to borrow money due to medical debt.
When consumers cannot afford to service their medical debt, or if they have to stop paying other bills in order to be able to make their medical debt payments, they will inevitably end up missing payments, defaulting on debts, having accounts go into collection, and possibly even filing for bankruptcy in extreme cases.
All of these derogatory items are severely damaging to one’s credit and therefore tend to make credit more expensive and less accessible to consumers who struggle with medical debt. This impact is long-lasting since negative information stays on your credit report for seven years or even up to 10 years in some bankruptcy cases.
For those who cannot afford adequate healthcare, getting sick depletes scarce resources, limits future opportunities, and stunts financial growth for many years, thus continuing the downward financial spiral.
Racial Disparities in the Credit System
Since race and ethnicity are not legally allowed to play a role in credit scores, you might think that consumers of all races would have equal opportunity in the credit system. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case.
Black and Hispanic consumers, on average, tend to have lower credit scores than non-Hispanic White and Asian consumers, even after controlling for other variables such as personal demographic characteristics, location, and income. Black borrowers pay higher interest rates on auto loans and other installment loans than non-Hispanic White borrowers who have the same credit score. Black and Hispanic consumers experience higher denial rates than other groups with the same credit score.
Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be credit invisible (lacking a credit record) than White and Asian Americans—15% of Black and Hispanic consumers lack a credit record, compared to just 9% of White and Asian consumers. Black and Hispanic consumers are also more likely than White consumers to have credit records that cannot be scored by widely used credit scoring models—13% of Black adults and 12% of Hispanic adults are unscorable, versus only 7% of White adults. (The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) did not provide the percentage of Asian consumers who cannot be scored but said that “the rates for Asians are almost identical” to those of White consumers.)
Since credit invisibility and unscorability are more common among Black consumers, it should not be surprising to learn that Black households are more than twice as likely as White households to use payday lending. Payday loans are an expensive and usually predatory type of credit, in contrast to traditional sources of credit, such as banks, credit unions, and credit card issuers.
Credit Options Are Limited by Circumstances
In our credit system, there are some people who have the privilege of starting out with good credit and stable finances simply due to the circumstances they were born into, while many others are not so fortunate.
As we talked about in our article about equal credit opportunity, there are five main factors, referred to as the “five C’s,” that influence a borrower’s performance when it comes to paying back debt:
Capacity: the amount of income that is available to pay off debts Collateral: the value of assets backing a loan, such as your car or your house Capital: the value of assets that do not explicitly back a loan, but may potentially be used to repay it Conditions: events that can disrupt a borrower’s income or create unexpected expenses that affect a borrower’s ability to make loan payments, such as a job loss Character: the financial knowledge, experience, and/or willingness of a borrower that is relevant to their ability to manage financial obligations
As much as some people may like to believe that getting good credit is simply a matter of determination and hard work, in reality, each of the five C’s is subject to external forces and influences that may be beyond the control of the borrower.
When it comes to your capacity to pay off debts, for example, your income may be limited by the availability of jobs where you live and the types of jobs you can qualify for. Hiring discrimination and other challenges prevent many Black individuals from earning to their full potential, which results in a reduced capacity to pay off debt compared to White folks.
In order to have collateral and capital, you need to have valuable assets, which is a privilege that not everyone enjoys.
A borrower’s “character” depends on their upbringing and education, which for many people does not include adequate financial education.
And while anyone could be faced with unexpected conditions that may lead to financial hardship, people who are financially and socially privileged are in a much stronger position to recover, while others who are less fortunate could face financial ruin from even a single emergency.
Lacking Access to Credit Has Consequences
The reality in our country is that centuries of systemic inequality continue to have an impact on all of these five C’s in countless ways, which contribute to higher rates of credit invisibility and poor credit in Black communities.
As the CFPB states, “…the problems that accompany having a limited credit history are disproportionally borne by Blacks, Hispanics, and lower-income consumers.”
For example, data show that 42% of consumers in communities of color have debt in collections, compared to only 26% of consumers in White communities. Delinquency rates or default rates for medical debt, student loan debt, auto loans, and credit card debt are higher for communities of color across the board.
This makes a lot of sense when you think about the fact that Black and Hispanic borrowers have lower incomes and less wealth that they can use to service their debts compared to White borrowers.
The consequences of these disparities are far-reaching. Here are just a few of the repercussions of having no credit or bad credit:
It is more difficult to obtain credit, from credit cards to installment loans. Credit is more expensive—it comes with higher interest rates and fees and may require a larger down payment or security deposit upfront. Insurance rates may be more costly for those with bad credit. It may affect your employment opportunities since surveys have shown that around 20%-25% of employers conduct credit checks as part of the hiring process for some positions.
Who Has the Privilege of Receiving Financial Support From Others?
Perhaps another “C” could be added to the list: community.
Often, the difference between good credit and bad credit or no credit at all often comes down to having a strong financial support network.
If you think about the five C’s of credit performance (capacity, collateral, capital, conditions, and character) we described above, each factor can be influenced or controlled by the financial resources available to you within your social circle.
According to the Urban Institute, “Financial support received can be saved or invested in an education or a home and it can be used to cover unexpected costs, helping families remain stable through financial emergencies.”
Having been deprived of generational wealth for centuries, Black households have fewer financial resources to draw on when a friend or family member is in need, and they receive less financial support from those in their networks compared to the amount of support that White families receive.
The Federal Reserve reports that while 71% of White Americans say they would be able to get $3000 from friends or family if they needed to, only 43% of Black Americans could say they would be able to do the same.
Another example of uneven access to financial support by race has to do with large monetary gifts and inheritances. The same report by the Urban Institute quoted above states that Black and Hispanic families are five times less likely to receive large financial gifts or inheritances than White families. For those who do benefit from large gifts and inheritances, Black families receive an average of $5,013 less than White families. It is estimated that this disparity explains 12% of the racial wealth gap.
From these examples, we see how a person’s family connections can enhance their access to capital and collateral, which can then make it easier to obtain and successfully pay off credit obligations. Conversely, not having access to those resources and possibly even having to support your own friends and family makes it much more difficult to manage debt.
An article in Forbes about the racial wealth gap summed it up well: “Those who have neither emergency savings nor flush friends and family to tap are more likely to take high-rate loans from payday lenders, skip needed medical care, fall behind on rent, mortgage or other bills or even have trouble paying for food.”
Piggybacking for Credit: Only for “Friends and Family”?
Being part of a privileged community does not only make it easier to access capital. It also means that you may be able to acquire a positive credit history before you have even used credit or opened your own primary accounts, thanks to the help of friends or family.
Achieving good credit early on in life is often the result of having friends and family members who also have good credit and who can share their positive credit history with someone who is just starting out. This process is called credit piggybacking because you can “piggyback” on someone else’s good credit in order to build up your own credit profile.
Ways to piggyback for credit include opening an account with a cosigner or guarantor, opening a joint account with someone who has good credit, or becoming an authorized user on someone else’s tradeline. Becoming an AU on a seasoned account is usually the preferred method for building credit fast because you can add years to your credit history simply by being added to the account, whereas the other methods involve opening a new primary account and waiting for it to age.
Unfortunately, when it comes to credit piggybacking, we see the same patterns of inequality along racial lines.
Many Consumers Are Already Benefiting From Credit Piggybacking
A study on AU accounts conducted by the Federal Reserve Board revealed that over a third of scoreable consumers in the United States have at least one AU tradeline in their credit profiles.
However, when the prevalence of AU tradelines is broken down by race, twice as many White consumers have AU accounts as Black consumers: only 20% of Black consumers have AU accounts, compared to 40% of White consumers.
In addition, the statistics showed that Black individuals have fewer AU accounts, on average, than White individuals, and when Black consumers do have AU tradelines in their credit profiles, the tradelines have less age and higher utilization rates of the tradelines held by White consumers.
What About “Equal Credit Opportunity”?
Despite the fact that one in three scorable consumers in our nation are already taking advantage of authorized user tradelines, there are still some who oppose the tradeline industry because they feel that those who purchase tradelines are “cheating the system.”
Yet these same people and institutions usually have no qualms about recommending that parents help their children build credit by allowing their children to be authorized users on their credit cards, or that a spouse who has good credit designates their partner as an authorized user for the purpose of building credit.
Most, if not all, of the big banks promote this strategy, often even explicitly saying that the authorized user does not need to be given the card to use, which makes it clear that it is solely for the purpose of getting that tradeline to appear on the authorized user’s credit profile.
As you can see, just like in many other aspects of our society, there is a double standard when it comes to who is “allowed” to benefit from AU tradelines.
While the banks publicly encourage their customers and their customers’ “friends and family” to use this credit-building tactic, they also claim that this opportunity should not be available to others who turn to the tradeline industry because they simply do not have the option of going to family or friends for credit help.
It does not seem fair or equal to promote a powerful credit-building strategy for those who are already privileged enough to have support from their social network while at the same time saying that it is wrong or should not be allowed for those who have fewer opportunities to get ahead.
How Can We Create Equal Opportunity for All?
Unfortunately, the racial economic divide in this country runs deep, as it has been perpetuated by American systems for generations.
For this reason, Black consumers disproportionally struggle with low incomes, less wealth, poor credit or no credit, and fewer opportunities to get ahead in life financially. This makes it more difficult to simply pay the bills and stay afloat, let alone to save money, invest in assets, and build wealth.
So what can we do to start to bridge the divide?
To address the disparity fully, it’s clear that large-scale economic policy changes on a national level will be needed.
The actions of individual consumers and businesses, while they cannot solve the problem as a whole, can help people take steps to improve their finances and credit.
Education on the Credit System and Personal Finance
Sadly, basic financial education is not something that most people are exposed to, neither in school nor at home.
Research is mixed on the topic of whether enhanced financial education in school would significantly help with the issue of economic inequality in our country. However, it can make a big difference to individuals to educate themselves on money management and the credit system and become empowered with this information to make better financial decisions.
We understand the importance of being educated about credit, knowing what the weaknesses in the credit system are, and understanding the steps you need to take to improve your credit. When you become familiar with how the credit system works, you have more power to make it work for you, instead of the other way around.
You can start taking control of your financial future with the knowledge and the power of these resources at your fingertips.
Tradelines and Equal Credit Opportunity
For those who lack a positive credit history, there are not many options to get started on building their credit profile, since most lenders base their decisions on your credit score and your track record of successfully managing credit in the past. Just like trying to get a job with no work experience, It can seem nearly impossible to get credit if you have not already had experience with credit before.
This is why we are so passionate about what we do at Tradeline Supply Company. We fill the void that so many consumers are looking for in their quest to start building or rebuilding their credit.
Our goal is to help create equal opportunity by making tradelines affordable and accessible to all consumers, not just the wealthy and the privileged.
While the wealthy have always had easy access to credit and strategies for building credit, the same cannot be said for the many people in America who are on the other, less fortunate side of the massive wealth gap.
At the same time, income inequality and the racial wealth gap keep growing larger, leaving more and more people behind who are struggling to build credit, manage their finances, and create a strong financial foundation for themselves and their families.
Systematic, government-legitimized discrimination against Black folks deprived Black communities of the opportunity to grow and thrive economically for hundreds of years. To this day, even though we claim to value equality, there are serious financial disparities in our systems that Black families bear the brunt of.
Although we alone cannot repair this injustice, we will continue to do our part in helping to provide equal opportunity to all consumers and create a more level playing field in our economy.
Most of the time, when we talk about credit, we are talking primarily about the impact of open accounts. But are we underestimating the importance of closed accounts? Let’s shed some light on the less commonly addressed question of how closed accounts can affect your credit.
What Is a Closed Account on a Credit Report?
A closed account on your credit report is simply any credit tradeline that has been closed, whether it was terminated by the customer or the creditor.
There are several different reasons why an account may be closed.
If you don’t use your account for several months, it could get shut down for inactivity. Photo by Hloom on Flickr.
If you don’t use a credit card for several months, for example, you could get your credit card closed for inactivity. In this case, your credit report might say “account closed by credit grantor” for that account since the lender was the party who terminated the account.
Other reasons a credit card may be closed by the creditor include:
The credit card issuer is no longer offering that type of credit card or is replacing it with a different card The credit card issuer determined that there was fraudulent activity on the account The card was stolen or lost
Consumers may also want to close their own credit accounts from time to time, in which case the account might be notated as “account closed by consumer.” As an example, if one of your credit cards increases its annual fee or if you no longer feel that the fee is worth it, you might decide to close that account.
What Do Closed Accounts Mean on Your Credit Report? Closed Accounts and Credit Utilization
Use our tradeline calculator to calculate your credit utilization ratios.
Now that you know what a closed account is and why an account may be closed, you may be wondering what a closed account on your credit report means for your credit.
The main impact of closing an account on your credit is the effect on your utilization ratio. By closing an account, you are reducing your total available credit limit, which could increase your overall utilization ratio if you have balances remaining on your other accounts.
Therefore, if you have balances on any of your other cards, you probably don’t want to close an account that is helping to keep your overall utilization down, as well as improving your ratio of low-utilization to high-utilization accounts.
On the other hand, if you pay down all your other credit cards to 0% utilization, you can safely close an account without impacting your credit utilization.
“Credit scoring models like FICO and VantageScore do indeed consider the age of your oldest account and the average age of your accounts when calculating your credit scores. However, closing an account does not remove its history — including its age — from your credit reports.
Not only will the history of a closed account remain on your credit reports, but credit scoring models will continue to consider the age of the account as well. And, even better, a closed account continues to age. So, if you closed a five-year-old credit card today… in 12 months it’s going to be a six-year-old credit card.”
Are Closed Accounts on Your Credit Report Bad?
Closed accounts on your credit report are not inherently a bad thing. In fact, they can often be a good thing, as we will elaborate on below.
Closed accounts on your credit report, unless they are derogatory, are not bad for your credit. In fact, they are probably giving your credit a boost.
However, derogatory closed accounts can definitely have a negative impact on one’s credit.
For example, if you had a credit card closed due to delinquency, meaning the creditor closed the account because you had stopped paying it, the account likely still has a balance owed.
Having a closed credit account with a balance on your credit report could really hurt your credit. According to some sources, closing a credit account removes its credit limit, so a credit card account closed with a balance would be considered maxed out or over-limit.
Credit utilization is a major influence on your credit score, so maxing out your utilization by having a credit card account closed with a balance could result in a big dip in your score.
However, other sources say that a closed account with a balance will be treated as an open account until the balance is paid off, at which point you can expect some damage to your score, especially if you have balances on your other credit cards.
The specific way that closed accounts are treated may depend on which credit score algorithm is used to calculate your score as well as other variables in your credit profile.
Should I Pay Off Closed Accounts on My Credit Report?
If your account was closed with a balance but remains in good standing, maintain its good standing by continuing to make payments until the account is paid off.
If your account was closed due to delinquency, the first thing to do is call your credit card issuer to check the status of the account. If the debt hasn’t been sold to a collections agency yet, you’ll want to start paying off the account immediately to prevent it from going to collections. You could end up with bad credit if you have a collection account on your file.
If the account is already in collections, however, whether or not you should pay it off is an entirely different question that depends on your individual situation.
See our article on collection accounts on your credit report for more information on how to handle collections.
Open vs. Closed Accounts on Credit Report
In the tradeline industry, we often get questions about whether closed accounts have an impact on one’s credit and, if so, what value they hold relative to open accounts.
It is possible to have a good credit score without having any open accounts. Photo by CafeCredit.com, CC 2.0.
This is an important question, because generally when you buy tradelines you are an active authorized user for two reporting cycles, and after you are removed from the account, it will begin to show as a closed account on your credit report.
Therefore, it is useful to know what impact the tradeline might have after it converts to a closed tradeline.
From what we have seen, closed accounts often can still be a very powerful influence on one’s credit score.
Remember, the age of a closed account still factors into your credit, and accounts continue to age even after they have been closed. Age and payment history go hand-in-hand and together make up 50% of a FICO score, and since closed accounts can still contribute to these factors, this implies that closed accounts can still have a strong effect on your credit.
However, closed accounts may have a diminishing impact over time, since credit scores tend to prioritize recent events.
Can You Have Good Credit With Only Closed Accounts?
It is possible to have a good credit score while only having closed accounts in one’s credit report. We have seen examples of people with credit scores in the 700’s who only had closed accounts in their credit file.
Can I Have Closed Accounts Removed From My Credit Report?
If you have closed accounts on your credit report that are not delinquent or hurting your credit, then there is no need to remove them. They may actually be helping your credit, even though they are closed.
Accounts that were closed in good standing should automatically fall off your credit report after 10 years, while delinquent closed accounts will fall off your credit report after 7 years.
How to Get Rid of Closed Accounts on Your Credit Report
If your credit card has been closed, you can try calling your credit card issuer to ask if the account can be reopened, but don’t wait too long.
If a closed account on your credit report is reporting inaccurately, then you can dispute it and have the credit bureaus update the account with the correct information or remove it.
Contact each credit bureau or check their websites for instructions on how to dispute accounts on your credit report.
If a Credit Card Is Closed, Can It Be Reopened?
In some cases, consumers may be able to reopen closed credit cards.
If your account was closed due to fraud or delinquency, banks typically do not allow these accounts to be reopened.
If it was closed voluntarily on your part or closed due to inactivity, however, you might have a chance to reopen the account if you don’t wait too long.
If you’re within the time window and your account is eligible to reopen, here’s how to reopen a closed credit card account:
Call the phone number provided on the back of your credit card (or if you don’t have the physical card anymore, look up the phone number for the customer service department for that card). Be ready to provide your personal information and answer security questions. Explain why you closed the account and why you are requesting to reopen it.
Some issuers may require a hard inquiry before they can approve your request, which could cause a small, temporary drop in your credit score.
If your bank doesn’t allow you to reopen the card, the next best solution might be to re-apply for the same card or apply for a new credit card altogether.
Take-Home Points About Closed Accounts
Accounts may be closed voluntarily by the consumer or closed by the creditor due to inactivity, fraudulent activity, or delinquency. Closed accounts are not necessarily bad and can even help your credit. Closing an account could affect your credit utilization. Closed accounts still contribute to your credit age and they continue to age even after they are closed. Closed accounts can still have a powerful impact on credit scores. Continue paying off accounts that were closed with balances to prevent them from going to collections. You can dispute closed accounts that are not reporting correctly. You may be able to reopen a closed credit card account depending on the circumstances.
Here’s a number that may shock you: about one in five American adults do not have a credit score.
About 26 million consumers are what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau calls “credit invisible,” which means they don’t have any credit history. Another 19 million consumers have credit records that cannot be scored by a commonly used credit scoring model.
Added together, that means 45 million consumers in our country—nearly one in five adults—lack a credit score.
Without a credit score or a sufficient credit record, it can be extremely difficult to navigate modern society. Credit scores indicate a consumer’s credit risk and therefore serve as the basis for most lending decisions, along with income. It can be difficult or even impossible to obtain credit without one.
Credit scores may also be used by landlords to evaluate prospective tenants, by insurance providers to determine rates, and by utility companies when assessing deposits. Employers may pull prospective employees’ credit reports in order to make hiring decisions.
Therefore, consumers who are credit invisible or credit unscorable may face serious challenges in obtaining credit, housing, insurance, utilities, and employment.
Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, the problem of credit invisibility is concentrated among certain demographics of consumers.
In this article, we’ll address who is most impacted by credit invisibility and the consequences of lacking credit history. In addition, we will discuss potential solutions to this issue and explain how tradelines can help consumers become credit visible.
Defining Credit Invisibility and Unscorability
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a report on credit invisibility in 2015 in which the Bureau determined how many Americans are lacking credit histories.
For the report, they analyzed a nationally representative data set containing the anonymized credit reports of nearly 5 million consumers. The CFPB purchased these anonymized credit reports from one of the major credit bureaus.
By subtracting the number of credit records in a census tract from the total number of adults living in the census tract, they were able to estimate the number of credit invisible consumers in each census tract.
Nearly 20% of consumers in the U.S. do not have a credit score due to a lack of credit history.
Overall, the CFPB found that more than 80% of the adult population in the United States (188.6 million consumers) have credit records with at least one of the major credit bureaus that contain enough information to be scored by the commercially available credit scoring model used for the CFPB’s research.
In contrast, 8.3% of adults have credit records that cannot generate a credit score using this credit scoring model. This group of 19.4 million consumers is divided about equally between consumers whose credit reports do not contain enough information to be scored (“insufficient unscored”) and consumers whose credit history is not recent enough to be scored (“stale unscored”).
This leaves 11% of the adult population who are completely credit invisible, meaning they do not have a credit record at all with any of the major credit reporting agencies.
What Are the Consequences of Being Credit Invisible or Unscorable?
The credit reporting agencies and credit scoring companies have been extremely successful in marketing their products to other industries. As a result, credit checks are now a standard procedure in many essential aspects of modern life. This means that being credit invisible can have devastating consequences for consumers.
Credit May Be Unattainable or Very Expensive
The “credit catch-22” is that in order to qualify for credit, you must already have a history of using credit. Lenders want to see a pattern of responsible borrowing before they take the risk of extending you credit.
Therefore, the obvious problem with having no credit history or minimal credit history is that it bars access to mainstream credit products such as loans and credit cards.
This lack of access to conventional credit options leads credit-invisible and unscored consumers to turn to “alternative financial service providers” (AFSPs), which include businesses such as payday lenders, pawn shops, and check-cashing stores. Unfortunately, services provided by AFSPs typically come with much higher costs than traditional credit products offered by banks.
Consumers who are credit invisible may turn to high-cost AFSPs such as payday lenders if they cannot access traditional credit products.
As most consumers do, those who are credit invisible or unscorable have legitimate credit needs, but unfortunately, their options are usually limited to high-cost AFSPs.
Housing May Be Difficult to Find and More Costly
Renting a home almost always involves a credit check for the prospective tenants. Often, landlords will simply reject applicants who do not have a credit record.
Some landlords may accept tenants who don’t have any credit history, but since it’s financially risky for them, they will likely charge more for the deposit or ask the tenant to prepay multiple months of rent.
Utility Providers and Wireless Carriers May Require a Deposit
Providers of utilities such as gas, electricity, water, trash, internet, and phone service also typically conduct credit inquiries on consumers. Knowing your credit score helps these companies judge how likely they think you are to pay your bills on time.
If you don’t have a credit score, they can’t make that judgment with confidence. To hedge their bets, the utility companies may ask you to pay a larger deposit upfront.
Insurance Could Be More Expensive
Credit scores are often considered as a factor when insurance companies decide on your rates for auto insurance as well as homeowner’s insurance, according to credit.com. If they can’t use a credit score to help determine your rate, they may end up charging you more.
Who Is Most Likely to Be Credit Invisible or Unscorable?
As you may remember if you’ve read our article on the topic of equal credit opportunity, the likelihood of being credit invisible isn’t the same for all consumers. In fact, there are strong correlations between credit invisibility and race, age, geography, and income.
Black and Hispanic Consumers Are More Likely to Lack Credit History
The CFPB discovered that consumers who are Black and Hispanic are more likely to be credit invisible or unscorable.
Compared to consumers who are White or Asian, Black and Hispanic consumers are more likely to be credit invisible or to have credit records that cannot be scored, according to the CFPB’s report.
Only 9% of White and Asian consumers are credit invisible, compared to about 15% of Black and Hispanic consumers. Similarly, only 7% of White adults have unscorable credit records, in comparison to 13% of Black adults and 12% of Hispanic adults.
The CFPB observed that this pattern was consistent across all age groups, which demonstrates that the differences between racial groups are established early on and never go away.
Credit Invisibility Is Correlated With Age
Younger consumers are far more likely to lack credit history than older adults. The CFPB report states that the vast majority (80%) of 18 to 19-year-olds are either credit invisible or have unscored credit records.
For the 20 to 24-year-olds age group, less than 40% are credit invisible or unscored. After the age of 60, however, this percentage begins to increase with age, although it’s not clear exactly what causes this effect.
Because credit history is gradually established over the course of one’s life, it makes sense that credit invisibility and unscored credit records would be more prevalent among young adults.
Income May Affect the Ability to Acquire Credit History
The CFPB found a strong correlation between income and having a credit record that can be scored. In low-income neighborhoods, nearly 30% of consumers are completely credit invisible, while another 15% are unscorable. In total, nearly half of consumers in low-income areas either have no credit history at all or not enough credit history to generate a credit score.
In contrast, in higher-income neighborhoods, only 4% of consumers are credit invisible and an additional 5% have credit files that cannot be scored.
These results aren’t particularly surprising. Income is often even more important than credit score when it comes to qualifying for credit. Even without having any credit history, a consumer with a high income will likely find it easier to qualify for credit than a low-income consumer and thus is more likely to open credit cards or take out loans than a low-income consumer.
Rates of credit invisibility are especially high in low-income neighborhoods.
On the other hand, since low-income consumers may have difficulty accessing traditional sources of credit, they may turn to AFSPs such as payday lenders, which typically do not report to the credit bureaus. This hypothesis may help partly explain why there is such a stark difference in the likelihood of credit invisibility between higher-income and lower-income consumers.
When consumers in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods do become credit visible, according to the CFPB, they tend to make the transition later in life than consumers in middle- and upper-income neighborhoods.
In addition, the CFPB report on “Becoming Credit Visible” concluded that consumers who reside in low-income neighborhoods are three times as likely than consumers in high-income neighborhoods to first acquire credit history from non-loan items such as collection accounts or public records (27% of low-income consumers versus just 8% of high-income consumers).
In contrast, consumers in upper-income neighborhoods are much more likely to start their credit records by opening credit cards.
Since the non-loan credit products are generally derogatory items like collections, this statistic suggests that low-income consumers are far more likely to start off their credit history with bad credit. The negative marks could hinder these consumers from being able to qualify for credit for a long time, which means they would likely have few, if any, opportunities to improve their credit profile with on-time payments toward loans or credit cards.
Geographic Regions of Credit Invisibility
Another CFPB report, this one from 2018, looked at geographic patterns in credit invisibility, such as differences between urban and rural areas as well as the problem of “credit deserts.”
Credit invisibility tends to be more common in rural areas.
A “credit desert” is generally defined as an area that lacks access to traditional financial service providers. However, they may have access to AFSPs such as payday lenders.
In these areas, rates of credit invisibility may be higher due to a lack of access to traditional sources of credit.
Urban vs. Rural Areas
The highest proportion of credit invisible consumers is found in rural areas, even in upper-income neighborhoods. This may be related to a lack of access to the internet in rural areas.
What Is Being Done to Solve Credit Invisibility?
Credit invisibility in America is a serious problem that is not going to be solved overnight. It’s going to take overarching structural changes to address the root causes of credit invisibility and credit inequality.
Let’s explore the potential solutions currently being researched by the U.S. government and by the credit scoring and reporting companies to address credit invisibility and credit inequality.
Government Programs to Support Credit Access
In the CFPB’s Annual Financial Literacy Report for 2019, the Bureau described their efforts to support inclusion and serve historically underserved communities by assisting local governments that are working to address credit invisibility in their cities.
These municipal programs typically focus on helping consumers build good credit by providing consumers with credit education, credit services, and credit products.
The CFPB worked with four cities in the fiscal year 2019 (Atlanta, Georgia; St. Louis, Missouri; Shawnee, Oklahoma; and Klamath Falls, Oregon), so it appears that government efforts to combat credit invisibility thus far have been localized and small-scale.
Alternative Credit Data
Using alternative data, consumers may be able to get credit for their rent and utility payments.
Alternative credit data is data derived from sources other than traditional credit reporting information. This may include data from ASFPs, utility payments, rent payments, full-file public records, and financial information that consumers can choose to share, such as bank account information (known as “consumer-permissioned data”).
While alternative data does have the potential to help millions of consumers become credit visible, for a majority of them, that may not be a good thing. FICO’s preliminary research using their alternative data scoring model showed that two-thirds of newly scored consumers ended up with a score that was below 620, which is considered bad credit.
Having bad credit can be even worse than having no credit, so for these consumers, the use of alternative data would hurt more than it helps.
Alternative data may represent a possible solution to credit invisibility, but it should be implemented in a way that does not simply perpetuate and amplify the credit inequality that consumers already struggle with.
How to Become Credit Visible
It’s clear that credit invisibility, lack of access to credit, and inequality in the credit system are not going away anytime soon.
For now, however, we can at least discuss some strategies that individual consumers can use to start building credit and transition from being credit invisible to credit visible in a way that sets them up for success.
Becoming Credit Visible Through Credit Piggybacking
It’s incredibly difficult to get approved for a primary account when you don’t have any credit history to show lenders that you can be trusted. However, you can start to build credit history even without opening a primary account by piggybacking on someone else’s credit.
Piggybacking on another person’s credit can help consumers transition out of credit invisibility.
Credit piggybacking is when you become associated with someone else’s credit record for the purpose of building credit. This is actually a fairly common way for consumers to start establishing credit.
In “Becoming Credit Visible,” the CFPB noted that about 15% of consumers opened their first credit account with a co-borrower, while another 10% first created their credit record by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s tradeline. This means that in total, about one in four consumers initially gain credit history with the help of someone else via credit piggybacking.
There are three main ways to credit piggyback.
1. Get a Cosigner or Guarantor
When you can’t get credit on your own, having someone who has good credit who can vouch for you as a cosigner or guarantor can make a huge difference in your chances of being approved for credit.
However, it can be difficult to find someone to take on this role, since it not only requires someone with good credit but someone who would be willing to be on the hook for your debt if you cannot repay it.
2. Open a Joint Account With Someone
A joint account is an account that you share with another person. Both parties have access to the account and both people can be held responsible for the debt.
If you know someone with good credit who is willing to open a joint account with you, their positive credit history can help the two of you get approved, similar to getting a cosigner or guarantor. Since both parties jointly share responsibility for the account, you should only open an account with someone you trust completely.
Joint credit cards are not very common, so your options for opening a joint account may be limited.
3. Become an Authorized User on a Credit Card With Age and Positive Payment History
Credit invisible consumers can add credit history to their credit reports by becoming authorized users on seasoned tradelines.
While the previous two credit establishment strategies involve opening a new primary account, which means you’d be starting out with no credit age, the authorized user method provides a shortcut to gaining years of credit history.
When you become an authorized user on a seasoned tradeline (an account with at least two years of age), often the full history of that account is reflected in your credit report as soon as the next reporting date for that account. In other words, you can add years of credit age and positive payment history to your credit file in just a few weeks and sometimes even faster.
The CFPB’s research showed that 19% of consumers (about one in five) had at least one authorized user account on their credit record, and over half of these consumers had transitioned out of credit invisibility as a result of one of their authorized user accounts. On average, consumers gained at least two years of credit history from authorized user accounts.
Not all banks report authorized user data, but when you buy tradelines from Tradeline Supply Company, LLC, you can be confident that we only work with banks that have been proven to reliably report authorized user information.
In addition, authorized user tradelines can increase the total credit limit of your profile.
For these reasons, the authorized user strategy is the fastest and easiest way for those who lack credit history to start building credit.
Once you’ve established some credit history through credit piggybacking, you can look into opening your own primary accounts.
A credit-builder loan is a good option for those without credit history since they are easier to get approved for than traditional loans.
A credit-builder loan is a type of installment loan designed for those who are just starting out on the path to building credit. Lenders are able to offer these loans to consumers with thin credit files or no credit history because they are set up so that the borrower makes all the payments toward the loan before receiving the funds.
See our article on credit-builder loans for more information on how they work and whether a credit-builder loan could help you.
Secured Credit Cards
Those with limited credit history may also benefit from opening a secured credit card. Secured credit cards require you to make a security deposit, the amount of which then becomes your credit limit. Secured cards typically have low credit limits, but they can help you build credit by reporting your payment history to the credit bureaus.
Retail Store Credit Cards
A retail store credit card may also be a good option for those who do not have a credit history, as they tend to be easier to get approved for than bank credit cards. Just be careful not to carry a balance from month to month since retail cards also tend to have higher interest rates.
For example, the CFPB’s report on becoming credit visible found that low-income consumers were significantly less likely than higher-income consumers to use credit piggybacking methods to establish credit.
Consumers in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods were found to be 48% and 25% less likely, respectively, than consumers in middle-income neighborhoods to become credit visible through a joint account.
Similarly, consumers in lower-income neighborhoods who had recently transitioned out of credit invisibility were less likely to have authorized user accounts on their credit files compared to those in higher-income areas.
In addition, lower-income consumers were less likely to become credit visible via an authorized user tradeline. Lower-income consumers who did have their credit records created as a result of an authorized user tradeline gained less credit history than higher-income consumers.
Since credit piggybacking requires you to partner with someone who has decent credit and/or income, it would seem that perhaps low-income consumers simply do not have access to these resources and partnerships within their social networks.
In the words of the CFPB, “…a lack of co-borrowers may be an important contributor to credit invisibility in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.”
Today, authorized user tradelines are affordable and accessible to more consumers than ever before.
As we learned earlier, credit invisibility is significantly more prevalent among Black and Hispanic consumers. Altogether, the data suggest that consumers who are Black, Hispanic, or low-income are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to establishing credit and building a credit history.
These are just a few of the many ways in which inequality is manifested throughout the credit system. Simply put, privileged consumers have the opportunity to build credit through credit piggybacking while many others are denied this opportunity.
Historically, the strategy of building credit by becoming an authorized user was primarily limited to the wealthy. Today, however, a marketplace exists where consumers of all backgrounds can take advantage of the benefits of authorized user tradelines.
In addition, there is a wealth of information online that consumers can use to educate themselves on the credit system and start off on the right foot when it comes to building credit.
As a leader in the tradeline industry, Tradeline Supply Company, LLC has opened the door to equal credit opportunity for thousands of consumers. By offering some of the lowest tradeline prices in the industry, we have made tradelines more affordable and accessible to the consumers who need them most.
If you’ve just resolved some errors on your credit report or paid down your balances and you’re wondering how to update your credit report information fast so that you can improve your credit rating quickly, you may be interested in something called a rapid rescore. You can find the answers to all of your questions about rapid rescores in this article.
What Is a Rapid Rescore?
A rapid rescore is a process that mortgage lenders use to manually update your credit report information with the credit bureaus so that your score can be recalculated quickly. Instead of waiting for your creditors to report your information to the bureaus periodically, your mortgage lender can provide the information to the bureaus and request that they update your credit report right away.
When Would You Need a Rapid Rescore?
Since mortgage loans are time-sensitive, a rapid rescore can definitely be a useful tool in certain situations. If you are in a situation where there’s been a change to one or more of your tradelines that has not yet been reflected in your credit report, and you need to rapidly increase your credit score in order to qualify for better mortgage terms, you may want to consider requesting a rapid rescore.
Rapidly increasing your credit score before getting approved for a mortgage could mean qualifying for a lower interest rate and therefore huge savings in interest over the term of your loan.
For this reason, the best candidates for a rapid rescore are consumers who have credit scores between the mid-600s and the 720s who are five to 10 points shy of their target score, according to Bankrate. The maximum benefit of a rapid rescore is gained by borrowers who are able to get bumped up to the next credit score “tier” in order to qualify for a lower interest rate, which can ultimately save them thousands of dollars over the course of the mortgage.
If you have recently paid down some of your revolving balances, a rapid rescore could get your credit score to reflect your lower credit utilization sooner.
Of course, it’s always best to plan ahead well in advance of applying for a mortgage so you have plenty of time to get your credit score in great shape first. However, sometimes situations may arise in which a rapid rescore would be beneficial. Some examples of situations that might call for a rapid rescore include:
If you have recently received a credit line increase If you have just paid down the balance of an account If you have been added as an authorized user to an account in good standing or removed from a derogatory account If you need to dispute inaccurate negative items on your credit report, such as late payments that were being reported in error
Remember, credit utilization makes up 30% of your credit score, so any action you take to improve your credit utilization ratio, such as paying down account balances, may help boost your score and get you a better deal on your mortgage.
How to Get a Rapid Rescore
If you need to know how to improve your credit rating quickly through a rapid rescore, keep in mind that not just anyone can request one. Rapid rescores are only offered by mortgage lenders, so, unfortunately, you cannot get a rapid rescore on your own. If you are in the process of applying for a mortgage, ask your lender if they can complete a rapid rescore for you.
How Long Does a Rapid Rescore Take?
The great thing about a rapid rescore is that it can get the credit bureaus to update your credit report within just a few days, instead of waiting for weeks or even months for it to happen automatically. Once your mortgage lender submits all the necessary documentation to initiate the rapid rescore, you should see your new results in three to seven business days.
A rapid rescore can update your credit report in days instead of weeks, which can be useful when applying for a mortgage.
How Much Does It Cost to Do a Rapid Rescore?
According to creditcards.com, the cost of a rapid rescore typically ranges from around $25 – $30 for each account that needs to be updated. However, the mortgage lender should be paying for the rescore, not the consumer.
The reason for this is that a rapid rescore is considered an expedited dispute process, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act says that consumers cannot be charged to dispute inaccurate information.
Does Rapid Rescore Really Work?
When it comes to rapid rescore results, they will likely be the same as if you had gone through the normal channels to submit a dispute. Remember, a rapid rescore is essentially an accelerated credit report dispute. The rescore itself is not guaranteed to make your credit score increase.
If you are using the rapid rescore to remove inaccurate information that has been dragging down your credit score, then you should see positive results from the rescore.
However, just as in traditional credit repair, a rapid rescore cannot be used legitimately to try to remove information that is accurate. If the derogatory items on your credit report are accurate and timely (from within the past seven years), then a rapid rescore won’t be able to help you.
Rapid Rescore Companies
Companies that offer the rapid rescore service to borrowers include mortgage lenders such as banks and credit unions. Not all mortgage lenders offer the service, though, since it can end up being expensive and lenders are not allowed to charge borrowers for a rapid rescore.
If you are getting ready to apply for a home loan and you think you may want to have the option of doing a rapid rescore, ask the banks or mortgage lenders you are interested in whether the companies offer the rapid rescore service to borrowers.
If you find any rapid rescore companies advertising their services to individual consumers, use caution and watch out for possible scams.
You can use our tradeline calculator or a credit score simulator to get a general idea about whether a rapid rescore could benefit your score.
Rapid Rescore Calculator
To calculate your rapid rescore results, you don’t need a specific rapid rescore simulator. Just use your favorite credit score simulator and plug in the numbers that make sense for your situation.
If you are planning to do a rapid rescore after paying off $5000 in credit card debt, for example, you could enter that information into the credit score simulator to calculate what the results of your rapid rescore might be. You could also try our Tradeline Calculator to see how your credit utilization ratios would change as a result of paying down some of your accounts or transferring balances.
However, keep in mind that any credit score simulator is likely not going to produce the exact same results that your lender will see. Online credit score calculators typically use simplified credit scoring algorithms to produce estimates, which may not always match up with the numbers the mortgage lender sees when they pull your FICO scores.
How to Do a Rapid Rescore Yourself
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to do a DIY rapid credit rescore on your own, since only mortgage lenders can perform this service on your behalf.
What you can do is prepare thoroughly to ensure your dispute will be accepted. As with a normal credit report dispute, you’ll need to provide proof to support your claim. This often means obtaining a letter from the creditor verifying the change that you can then provide to the credit bureaus.
For example, if you have just paid down the balance on one of your credit cards, you can ask the credit card company to send you a letter verifying the updated tradeline information. Your mortgage lender can then submit this to the credit bureaus to get you a rapid rescore.
How to Update Credit Report Information
To update your credit report information yourself, you can obtain a letter from your creditor and forward it to the credit bureaus.
Although you can’t officially do a DIY rapid credit rescore yourself, you can trigger a manual credit report update by submitting your documentation directly to the credit bureaus. However, your tradeline may not be updated as quickly as when your mortgage lender pays for the privilege of an expedited update.
To summarize, follow these steps to manually update tradelines in your credit report:
Contact the creditor and request that they send you a letter that verifies the updated account information. Send this letter to the credit bureaus and request that they update the information in your credit file.
Once they receive your information, the credit bureaus should then update the information for that tradeline in your credit profile.
In addition, some banks may report a tradeline in the middle of a reporting cycle if you pay down the balance to zero.
Rapid Rescore Success Stories
If you’re interested in reading some rapid rescore success stories, you can find plenty of them online. Try searching in some online credit forums to see the rapid rescore results other consumers have been able to achieve.
Some consumers may see a credit score boost of up to 100 points after a rapid rescore, although results vary widely based on what information is being changed.
Some sources say they have seen credit score increases of up to 60 points after a rapid rescore, while others claim that a rapid rescore could potentially boost one’s credit score by up to 100 points. However, keep in mind that the result of a rapid rescore is going to depend on what information in your credit report is being updated and how severely it had been affecting your score.
Conclusions on Rapid Rescores
Although a rapid rescore won’t necessarily raise your credit score per se, it can be a very useful tool if you need to get your credit report and credit score updated within a few days rather than waiting weeks or even months for the credit bureaus to update your information normally.
When applying for a mortgage, a rapid rescore may be used to increase your chances of getting the best possible rate on your loan by getting positive changes to reflect on your credit report and in your credit score quickly.
Only some mortgage lenders offer this service, so check with your lender to see if they provide rapid rescores to their clients.
In addition, it’s a good idea to check your credit reports several months in advance so that you have plenty of time to correct any errors and pay down your balances. That way, you can decrease the likelihood that you will have to rely on a rapid rescore when applying for a mortgage.
There are plenty of articles out there about the fastest ways to raise a credit score, but the focus of this article and infographic is a bit different. Rather than giving you shortcuts on how to boost your credit score, we’re talking about the fastest ways to build credit for long-term success.
While raising a credit score can be accomplished in various ways, not all of them involve actually building your credit profile by adding more accounts. Credit repair companies may offer tactics on how to raise credit scores by removing negative, inaccurate information from your credit file, but this strategy doesn’t do anything to build your credit history by establishing new accounts. They may remove harmful inaccurate information, but they often lack in assisting with credit re-establishment.
Opening a mix of several different accounts and keeping them in good standing is crucial for building a good credit record, but this process takes time. It is well-known that a credit account needs at least two years of history to be considered “seasoned,” which is when it has enough age to show that you can properly handle the account and therefore begins to improve your credit score.
Before this point, when an account is still young, it represents a risk to the lender because they don’t know if you will use the credit responsibly. They don’t know if you are going to max out your cards, miss payments, etc. That’s why new accounts often hurt your credit temporarily.
So what can you do if you don’t have 2+ years to open new accounts and wait for them to age? What if you can’t get approved for credit on your own to begin with? How do you build good credit fast?
Piggybacking: The Fastest Way to Build Credit
The answer to how to build credit fast is piggybacking. This term refers to the practice of building credit by becoming associated with someone else’s credit accounts.
This might sound surprising, but studies have shown it is a very common practice. A study of over 1 million consumers by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau showed that nearly a quarter of consumers transitioned out of credit invisibility by piggybacking on the creditworthiness of others. According to a survey by creditcards.com, 86 million Americans have shared a credit card account with someone else!
Additionally, a study by the Federal Reserve Board found that about 30% of consumers with a scorable credit record have at least one authorized user account on their credit record.
There are three main ways that piggybacking occurs: getting credit with a co-signer, being a joint credit account holder, or becoming an authorized user.
Build Credit Fast With a Cosigner or Guarantor
One very common strategy for someone who needs help building credit fast is to apply for credit with a cosigner or guarantor, which is a person who can be responsible for the debt in the event that the primary borrower cannot repay it. The cosigner or guarantor does not typically receive access to the funds or make payments on the debt unless the primary borrower is no longer able to.
A cosigner or guarantor can help a borrower get credit by pledging to be responsible for the debt if the primary borrower cannot repay it.
Since the cosigner or guarantor’s credit record and income are considered when applying for credit, the primary borrower may be able to piggyback off the cosigner’s good credit to qualify for credit or get better terms.
Getting credit with a cosigner or guarantor means opening a new account, which dings credit temporarily. It is still going to take a few years for the account to age enough to help build your credit score. It may be difficult to find someone willing to cosign on a loan or credit card since it is a risky proposition without much benefit for the cosigner. Some lenders, particularly credit card issuers, may not even allow cosigners. It may be difficult or impossible to remove the cosigner in the future, so the cosigner must be willing to potentially be permanently associated with the account.
Building Credit as a Joint Account Holder
As joint account holders, two parties apply for one account that they can both use. Both parties have full access to the account and both are held fully responsible for the account. Joint accounts are most commonly used by spouses with shared finances.
Joint accounts can help build credit, but they are most commonly used by spouses with shared finances.
Both applicants are considered by the lender when issuing credit. By pairing with someone with good credit, a person with less-than-perfect credit may be able to open an account that they wouldn’t have qualified for on their own, or get more favorable terms. If the joint account is kept in good standing over time, it can continue to help build the credit of the user who needs to improve their credit profile. A joint account can make it easier for two people to manage their finances together. Both account holders have access to the privileges associated with the account, such as rewards. A joint account is also considered a primary account since each borrower has full access to the account and full liability for the debt.
Opening a joint account means adding a new account to your credit report, which decreases the average age of accounts and can temporarily hurt your credit. The account will still need at least two years to age enough to help improve your credit score. Both users are fully responsible for the debt. If one person maxes out the account, the other can legally be held responsible. It’s always possible that an event such as a breakup could change the relationship between account holders, which could make it difficult to manage the account. Disagreements over the account could damage the relationship between account holders. It might be difficult to find someone to open a joint account with you if you do not have a spouse or if your spouse does not want to combine finances. Not all lenders provide joint credit accounts, so options for opening a joint account are limited. Many joint accounts do not provide the option of removing a joint account holder, so both users are often attached to the account permanently unless they decide to close it altogether.
Authorized user credit piggybacking is one of the fastest ways to build credit. Photo via seniorliving.org.
How to Build Credit Fast as an Authorized User
You’re probably already familiar with the concept of piggybacking credit as an authorized user. The classic example is parents who add their children as authorized users of their credit cards for the purpose of helping them build a credit history. Often, the young adult does not even get a credit card, so they can’t make charges to the account—the goal is solely to have the account show up on their credit report.
The account can show up on the authorized user’s credit report as soon as the next reporting date for that credit card, which means it can build your credit fast. Only the primary account holder is responsible for the debt incurred, not the authorized user. Only the primary cardholder’s credit file is considered when the credit card company issues the card. Therefore, many times, an authorized user may be added to the account even if their credit is not as pristine as the primary cardholder. The authorized user’s credit score does not affect the credit of the primary cardholder (as long as the authorized user does not increase the utilization of the account by making charges). Being an authorized user can be a great way to build credit fast, since the full history of the account is often shown in the credit reports of both the primary cardholder and the authorized user, regardless of when the authorized user was added (with some exceptions depending on the bank). The authorized user can remove themselves from the account if they no longer want the account to appear on their credit report, such as if the account becomes delinquent.
Authorized users don’t have the ability to make changes to the account like the primary cardholder. The primary cardholder does not even have to give the authorized user a credit card. If the account shows any negative behaviors such as a late payment or high utilization, this will be reflected on the authorized user’s credit report, which may be counterproductive to the goal of building credit. If you buy an authorized user tradeline from a reputable company, however, the tradeline should have a perfect payment history and low utilization.
What Is the Best Way to Build Credit Fast?
While there are many ways to increase your credit score quickly, not all of them are conducive to building credit, which means strengthening your credit profile with additional accounts.
Credit repair techniques may promise to boost credit scores fast, but removing information from your credit report doesn’t help you build credit. To truly build or rebuild credit, you need to add positive credit history to your credit report.
Building credit for long-term success involves establishing a mix of different credit accounts, including credit cards and loans. These foundational accounts, with time, will aid in boosting your credit score to its highest potential.
However, if you need to build credit fast, you’ll have to take a different approach. Primary accounts need time to age and accumulate positive payment history before they can start to increase your credit score. And if you are starting with bad credit or no credit at all, it can be hard to get approved for credit accounts on your own.
The only shortcut we have seen to building credit fast is piggybacking credit. Through credit piggybacking, you can benefit from someone else’s good credit, whether that is by getting a cosigner to sign on with you, opening a joint account with someone, or becoming an authorized user on an existing account.
While the first two options are still restricted by the limiting factor of time, being added as an authorized user to a seasoned account can add years of positive credit history to your credit report almost instantly.