Veteran Services: Finance Questions

Finances

You're working, and you've got a family that depends on you - both now and down the road. Where do you invest your money? Do you borrow against the equity in your house? Through a preferred provider relationship with USAA, The American Legion can provide expert financial advice to just about any question.

Questions & Answers

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Financial Questions & Answers

Question:

I am wondering how my credit score is low if I am on time with all of my payments. I have not been late for over 16 months. My credit score seems like it never goes up. Can you please help, Thanks. -Daniel

Answer:

We commend you on 16 months of on-time payments! That’s a great start toward moving your score up. However, payment history is only one component of your score. According to the folks at Fair Isaac, the company that invented credit scoring, there are five components to your score: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit used. Here are a couple of examples of how your score could suffer despite making on-time payments:

  • You may owe a lot relative to your credit limits. For example, if your credit limit is $10,000 and you owe $7,000, this is a "utilization ratio" of 70 percent and would hurt your score. That’s the case, even if you’ve made on-time payments.
  • Your score benefits if you’ve used a number of different types of credit. Credit cards, installment loans (like a car loan), mortgage and even retail accounts. If you don’t have a diversified credit usage profile it could also hurt your score despite your on-time payments.

We think you should keep up the good work with respect to on-time payments and sit down with a counselor associated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (www.nfcc.org). One of their counselors should be able to review your situation in detail and help you start pushing that score higher. Good luck.