credit

Sometimes the best of intentions can lead to the worst results — especially by following bad but well-intentioned advice on how to improve your credit score.

While not meant to be bad advice, some widely held thoughts on improving credit are actually credit card myths that could hurt your credit score more than help it. Some credit card myths are just downright odd.

Here are 11 credit card myths that we’ve debunked so they don’t hurt your credit score:

1. Canceling credit cards boosts my credit score

At face value, doing this makes sense. Getting rid of debt and then cutting up your credit cards and canceling them can serve as a final act of victory.

But it doesn’t work that way, says Thomas Nitzsche, a spokesman for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions. While it can be psychologically therapeautic, closing the account actually damages the credit score, especially if it’s one with a long, good payment history, Nitzsche says.

Canceling credit cards can hurt a credit score by a few points decreases your debt-to-available credit ratio, says Leslie Tayne, a financial attorney and debt specialist.

“The more cards you close in a short period of time, the bigger drop you are likely to see in your credit score,” Tayne says.

2. Too many inquiries hurt

“While a lot of inquiries can drop your score a few points, this phenomenon is largely inflated,” Nitzsche says. “Most scoring models actually allow inquiries within a certain timeframe to just be considered one inquiry.

“The reason for this is that, for example, when shopping for a car the dealer is likely to try to get you financed with multiple banks. It would be unfair for the consumer to be dinged for this. If you have credit with a company, their risk management department pulls your credit regularly to check on your financial health with no change in score,” also called a “soft pull.”

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23 Comments

  1. 1

    Hello,
    My husband and I are trying to buy a house. Our credit score is a 500 but we are trying to figure out ways we can bring it up. What would you suggest. Im a bit confused because we talked to lexington law and the man said that even if we pay off items it might not bring our score up. Most of our debt is $200 and below and we were just going to pay it off but now I dont know if that is the right thing to do. We are so lost but we really want to buy a house. We really need suggestions.

    • 2

      Hi Shay,

      Every case is different, so I can’t guarantee that the advice you received is good or not without having access to all of your credit reports and financial information. However, in general, if you are able to pay off your debts, it is usually a good idea to do so. You can use some tactics to raise your score once your debts are paid, because then you have a history of being in good standing to prove to potential lenders that you will use credit wisely in the future.

      Let us know what you decide to do!

      Abbey

  2. 3

    I had a repo from 2011, recently the debt was sold to a third party collector. Now it shows twice on my credit reports. Is that legal? What if any sort of recourse do I have?

    Thanks in advance

    • 4

      Hi Rachelle,

      When an account goes into collections, it can show up twice on your credit report. The first item is the original debt, and the second item is the new collection account. However, this is not viewed as two separate debts but as a continuation of the original debt. The original debt should reflect that it has been sold to a collection agency (indicated as charged off, transferred, or sold) to show that the original account is closed and the new account is with collections.

      You can find out more about collections accounts and how to deal with them here: http://www.thecreditsolutionprogram.com/collection-accounts/

      Abbey

  3. 5

    I also heard that even after 7 years a creditor will sell your debt to another collector this starting time clock all over again.

    • 6

      Hi Analia,

      Collections items generally remain on your report 7 years from the date that they reported delinquent to the credit bureaus (7 years + 180 days after the payment was due). This should not be “restarted” just because your creditors sold your debt to a different company.

      Abbey

  4. 7

    Now, I read somewhere you explained how to pay on your credit card to improve your score. Example, I just received a secured credit card. How much should I charge of the 200 limit and should I pay it off in full at end of month or not. Also it already has a 29 fee charged on it does that count as a charge? Any help would be appreciated. I though it said never charge over 30 percent and pay off in full at end of month. Is that true or not. Then I read only 9%

    Thanks
    mhp.lisa@gmail.com

  5. 9

    We live in Minnesota and SOL on card debt is 6 years, so will it come off the report in 6 years? Also, what IS the determining factor that determines WHAT day an account should come off?
    Thank you for clarification.
    Cindie

    • 10

      Hi Cindie,

      Unfortunately, SOLs only limit the amount of time that the creditor is allowed to take you to court to reclaim the debt. Even if an SOL has run out on your debt, you are still on the hook to pay it.

      In general, negative items will remain on your credit report for 7 years after they became delinquent or were sent to collections.

      Here is some more information about handling accounts that have been sent to collections: http://www.thecreditsolutionprogram.com/collection-accounts/.

      Abbey

  6. 11
  7. 13

    Thanks for great content . I read your blogs as soon as they come out. I am recovering from bankrupcy and find your advice on this subject very helpful. Keep up the great work.

    • 14

      Hi Teresa,

      Thanks for letting us know! Can you share some of your experiences with your bankruptcy that may be helpful to our other readers?

      Abbey

  8. 15

    I am continually amazed at the lack of knowledge that “experts” have regarding inquires. It is really misunderstood. True, an inquiry will not lower your score that much, even several. However, lenders look at it differently. They count the number and will decline you for a loan for “too many inquiries”. I have been rejected for one inquiry in the previous 6 months, even though my score, as they reported to me, was 748. You can’t control this, and it it difficult to control inquiries, since the credit bureaus do such a terrible job. The fact is, I do not believe, under the FCRA, that inquiries can even be reported, except to the consumer. I presently have 2 lawsuits in Fed. Court to address this issue. May not win, but so far the credit bureaus don’t have an answer.

    • 16

      Hi Larry,

      Sounds like you have a lot of experience with dealing with credit bureaus. Thanks for sharing your story, and please let us know how your efforts with this issue turn out.

      Abbey

  9. 17

    I am a little confused. I know negative things stay on your report 8 years. How do the statue of limitation come on to get things off of your credit? I live in Texas and the statue of limitation is 4 years for collection accounts and repos. How do I make both of them work for me?

    • 18

      Hi Renay,

      Statutes of Limitation (SOLs) limit the amount of time a creditor or collection agency has to file a lawsuit against you for an unpaid debt. So, if the SOL has lapsed, it just means that they can’t drag you into court. You are still on the hook for the debt if you have not paid it, and the creditors are still allowed to pursue getting you to pay it.

      You can learn more about dealing with accounts that have gone to collections in Mike’s video here: http://www.thecreditsolutionprogram.com/collection-accounts/.

      Good luck!

      Abbey

  10. 19

    I just read in Mikes Lesson 11 credit card myths that could hurt your credit score,that when you check your credit score,you should do it at least once a year. It also said that when you do check it you should be doing so for errors and if there is anything on there older than (7) seven years you should have those removed.
    My question is. How do you go about having those items removed? I have things on my credit report that are ten years old or older. I wanted to get financed for some kitchen appliances and was turned down.A year ago I did get my car financed tho they just wanted a little higher down payment because my credit isn’t perfect but it was fairly good with a score of 735.
    So if you could please explain to me how I get the 10 year plus items removed from my report it would be much appreciated.

    • 20

      Hi Marie,

      First of all, congratulations on your great credit score, it sounds like it took some time and hard work for you to get it an impressive 735.

      There are a few legitimate reasons that this item may still be appearing on your credit report. Keep in mind that some things, like tax liens, can stay on your report indefinitely. In general, most negative items remain on your report for 7 years, however that 7 years is can be calculated from the date that the first late payment took place or the date that the account went into collections, not the date that the account was opened.

      If you feel that this item is still appearing on your report in error, you can try using a tactic that Mike explains here: http://www.thecreditsolutionprogram.com/educational-videos/disputing-errors/.

      Good luck, and please let us know how it goes with getting this item removed!

      Abbey

    • 21

      Just call the credit bureaus and explain the situation and ask to have the erroneous items removed. I went through this a few years back to get a closed credit account removed from my report. I had formerly been an authorized user of this relative’s account but their credit tanked and pulled me down with them by association. Even after I had my name removed, it was still showing on my report. So I called them to request this account be removed from my credit reports as I was no longer associated with it, and within about a month I received confirmation letters and an updated credit report showing that the item was removed (and subsequently, my credit score improved). Make sure to get a written confirmation of your request and make note of everyone you speak to to process the request. Good luck!

      • 22

        Hi Lotus,

        Thanks so much for sharing your story. It just goes to show that you can make mistakes that lower your score, but the damage does not have to be permanent.

        Did you do anything else to help raise your score that you can share with us?

        Abbey

  11. 23

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