A new survey by BMO Harris Bank of 1,500 Americans reveals that 80% of us feel like we know how to get good credit.
In further questioning, however, we came up a bit short.
Here are a few of the statements the survey asked respondents to declare true or untrue.
The catch? Not one of them is true.
Your credit score improves if you carry a balance on your credit card.
30% agreed true.
A balance is simply money you owe the credit card card company. In other words, it’s debt, and debt isn’t going to improve your credit score. One of the absolute best things you can do for your credit is pay your bills on time and, preferably, in full.
Your level of education can affect your credit score.
23% agreed true.
Unless they meant your level of education about personal finance (which we’re pretty sure they didn’t), your credit score doesn’t factor in where or how you attained any manner of degree. It evaluates how you handle your money.
Checking your credit score can decrease your score.
27% agreed true.
People who agreed with this statement may have been thinking of a hard inquiry, which is when a lending institution such as a mortgage or auto lender looks at your credit and temporarily dings your score by a few points. But no, checking your score personally won’t hurt it. You can check as many times as you want, through free sites like Credit Karma, Credit.com, or Credit Sesame.
Your credit score is controlled by credit card companies.
17% agreed true.
Your credit score is actually determined by an algorithm, the most widely used of which is the FICO score. As tempting as it is to believe that credit card companies are pulling the strings, it’s actually your actions (and not just those relating specifically to your cards), calculated through the algorithm, that determine your three-digit score.
Your credit score will immediately improve from better behaviour (such as reducing a balance).
64% agreed true.
“Better behaviour” is always a good idea, but it’s unlikely that you’ll see an immediate improvement in your score. Your score is dependent on the activity detailed in your credit report, which is reported to the credit bureaus by your creditors and compiled. While we’d like to think creditors are reporting every day, the truth is that they might only report once a month, and it will take time for the information to become part of your report and then score.
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