14 Lies You've Been Told About Your Credit Score

Believing some of these credit score myths can prove costly.
Updated May 13, 2024
Fact checked
man frustrated at Poor Credit Score

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Credit scores are only three-digit numbers, but they have a mighty impact on our lives.

A bad score can upend a rental application, deprive you of the best rates on a credit card, or even cause a Saturday night date to think twice about pursuing a relationship.

Your credit score can tell you a lot about where you stand financially. But if you want to truly understand your credit standing, it’s important to avoid falling for the following credit score lies.

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You have only one credit score

Tada Images/Adobe Excellent credit scores concept on smartphone

It's likely that you have many different credit scores. The FICO score is most commonly used, but other scores include the VantageScore and many other custom scores.

Checking your score lowers it

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe man reviewing credit report using pen

When a lender checks your credit score, it sometimes causes your score to dip. But when you look at your own score, it has no impact on the score.

Carrying a credit card balance boosts your credit score

Who is Danny/Adobe man checking credit score using laptop

Carrying a balance from month to month will cost you money in most cases, and it will not boost your score.

Carrying a balance can be expensive, with some creditors charging annual percentage rates of 25%. Additionally, holding high levels of debt can increase your overall debt-to-credit ratio, which can hurt your score.

Many people find that it’s best to pay their balance in full each month whenever possible.

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Your salary impacts your credit score

NicoElNino/Adobe Score rating app on smartphone

Your credit score has nothing to do with your income. Of course, having more income may make it easier for you to pay your bills on time, and that can indeed help your credit score.

All rich people have high credit scores

Сергей Шиманович/Adobe man explaining credit score concept

The rich do not hold universally high credit scores. Rich people can just as easily fall into hardship or fail to meet their financial obligations as those who are less wealthy.

Rich folks miss payments just like anybody else. In other cases, they might run up high balances, which can also cause their score to fall.

Your race or gender can impact your credit score

Tada Images/Adobe Credit Karma app on iPhone

Race, gender, and the ZIP code where you live have nothing to do with your credit score.

Here are some of the factors that determine your number:

  • Your bill-paying history
  • The amount of unpaid debt you carry
  • The number and type of open loans
  • Your debt-to-income ratio
  • The length of time your accounts have been open
  • The number of new credit applications you have recently submitted
  • Bankruptcies, judgments, liens, or debts in collection

Teens don’t need to worry about credit scores

Andrey Popov/Adobe woman frustrated at poor credit score

At some point later in life, your children will apply for their first credit card. It makes sense to instill good borrowing and spending habits long before that day arrives.

You might even want to add your teen to your credit card account as an authorized user. While teens typically don't have credit scores until they turn 18, they can have a credit report at a younger age.

So, allowing your teen to spend on your card as an authorized user can help them start to build both a solid credit history and good spending habits.

Employers can see my credit score

Andrey Popov/Adobe Business woman Checking Credit Score On Laptop

Employers do not have a right to see your credit score. They can pull your credit history if you agree to let them do so. Otherwise, they do not have a right to look at your credit report.

Getting married can lower my credit score

Andrey Popov/Adobe poor credit score on smartphone screen

When you marry, you and your spouse will keep your separate credit scores. Credit bureaus do not merge those numbers. A credit report is issued at the individual consumer level and is not assigned jointly to couples.

However, if your spouse has poor credit and you jointly apply for a loan, the spouse’s low score can indeed hurt you during the application process. You might not be approved for the loan, or you might be saddled with a higher interest rate if you are approved.

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Using debit cards can help my credit score

Olivier Le Moal/Adobe Business Credit Score Gauge Concept

Paying for items with a debit card will not boost your credit score. These cards are tied to the money you have in your bank account and do not prove you can pay back debts you owe.

Using a prepaid card helps my credit score

Song_about_summer/Adobe man checking credit usage using smartphone

Using a prepaid card — even with a Visa logo — will not help your credit score. In essence, a prepaid card simply represents your own money loaded onto a card. As with a debit card, prepaid cards do not indicate your capacity for repaying debts.

Taking out a payday loan will help raise my score

wirojsid/Adobe Poor credit score report with pen

Most payday lenders do not report to the credit bureaus, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

However, if you do not make payments on this type of loan, it could end up in collections. And that could hurt your score.

Closing unused credit cards is good for my credit score

Elnur/Adobe Businessman trying to improve credit score

Cleaning up your credit profile may streamline your finances, but closing a credit card account can negatively impact your credit utilization ratio.

By closing an unused card, you are lowering your total available credit. If you carry debt, having less available credit overall could result in a dip in your credit score.

You can pay companies to quickly repair your credit

utah51/Adobe calculator over good credit report

Only the passage of time and good credit management will improve your credit score, says the CFPB. Quick-fix schemes that promise to help you get ahead financially by repairing your credit might be scams.

If you’re too overwhelmed to get your credit sorted out by yourself, consider working with a credit counselor.

To find a reputable counselor, the CFPB recommends contacting the Financial Counseling Association of America or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Bottom line

Courtney Haas/peopleimages.com/Adobe woman using card for shopping online

Before you fall for one of these credit-score lies, it’s time to wise up. Keep a close eye on your credit report and talk to a credit counselor if you need more help.

Avoid the myths and try to get out of debt, pay your bills on time, and rein in spending.

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Author Details

Stacy Garrels Stacy enjoys writing about fintech, consumer deals, the side hustle economy, and random tomfoolery. She's personally tried more than 100 different gigs, including being an Uber driver for one afternoon.

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