You might be surprised to find out what factors can’t hurt (or help) your credit scores—so stop worrying about them!
Factor #5: Paying Small Merchants
Bills you pay to small companies or individuals for local services—like lawn care, pest control, or rent—typically don’t show up on your credit report. The 3 nationwide credit bureaus have strict requirements about who can report consumer information to them, and in many cases it’s just not feasible for small businesses.
If a merchant doesn’t report payment information to the credit bureaus, then your payment history with that company can’t affect your credit scores. However, if you don’t pay up and they turn your account over to a collection agency, that’s another story! Collection companies typically report information to the credit bureaus on accounts they acquire.
The best way to find out which companies report information to your credit report is to get a free copy of it at annualcreditreport.com.
Factor #6: Paying Someone Else’s Bill
If you want to do a family member or friend a favor by paying their bills, do it from the kindness of your heart and not because you think it will boost your credit. Regardless of who pays a bill, it only gets reported on the credit file of the person who owns the debt.
Factor #7: Adding an Authorized User
Adding someone to your credit card as an authorized user allows them to get a card in their name and to make charges up to the credit limit that you allow. An authorized user simply rides your credit coattails and has no legal responsibility to repay the debt. Their credit situation can’t affect yours in any way—but you can help them build credit.
However, your credit scores could crash and burn if an authorized user abuses a credit card and you can’t afford to make the minimum monthly payments. So always be cautious about adding anyone to your credit cards.
Factor #8: Going Loan Shopping
Applying for new credit results in a “hard inquiry” on your credit report and it temporarily dings your credit. That’s because credit inquiries are a signal that you may be taking on new debt, which represents potential risk for creditors and merchants.
However, most credit scoring models are sophisticated enough to recognize when you’re shopping around for the best interest rates. So don’t hesitate to get multiple offers for an auto loan or a mortgage refinance. Credit scores may ignore multiple inquiries or simply count them as one inquiry if they occur within a specific timeframe, such as 2 or 3 weeks.
Factor #9: Checking Your Own Credit
Many people are skittish about getting their free credit report because they mistakenly think it’ll count against them. Pulling your own credit report is called a “soft inquiry” and it never hurts your credit scores, no matter how often you request it.
Learn more about how to check your credit report and get errors corrected in the Credit Score Survival Kit. It’s a free multimedia resource that also shows you how to build your credit and get your free credit score as often as you want with no strings attached.
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