When looking through your credit report, you might see some things that look unfamiliar to you, whether it be a strange name for a creditor, the difference between an open-end account versus an installment account, or inquiries that may pop up. All of these things affect your credit score in some tangible way.
Let’s go over several things to keep in mind when reviewing your credit report.
Obtaining a Credit Report
First, we need to get a credit report to review it. This can be done in several ways, such as going through a credit monitoring website such as Smart Credit or asking the credit bureaus directly for a credit report. Credit bureaus are required to provide a free credit report once a year. Even then, there are free alternatives like Credit Karma and Experian.
Revolving and Open-ended Accounts
Revolving accounts are the standard credit cards that you obtain from any creditor, financial institution, or bank. These accounts can either be closed or open, depending on your current lines of credit. What makes these accounts important is that they have a set credit limit and show the last balance that appeared on your credit card statement.
If you are an authorized user for someone else’s credit card, that card will also appear on your credit report, either boosting or decreasing your credit score, depending on if the card is in good standing. Keep in the mind the names that appear for your credit cards as well. For example, JPMCB is a Chase account, BRCLYSBANKDE is a Barclays Account, etc. Some credit card companies may go under an abbreviation or parent company name.
Retailer cards will also appear as revolving or open-ended credit cards, but it may be linked to a more established creditor. For example, Amazon will use either Synchrony Bank or Chase Bank as their financial partner to handle all transactions.
These accounts refer to loans of any kind: car, mortgage, and personal. Unlike a revolving account, these do not have a set credit limit but rather show the initial loan amount and the remaining balance of the loan. They are important to pay attention to as any late payments will negatively impact your score, and for people who have a long-term loan (like a mortgage), that late payment may last a long time.
Not only will car loans and mortgages appear but also personal loans. Personal loans may not always appear on all three credit bureaus, but rather, the lender might choose to only report to one credit bureau instead. Loans like AFFIRM and LOANME tend to do this, so make sure to check your credit report with all three credit bureaus.
Collection accounts are the bad apples that sit in your basket of credit. They are presented as either a collection agency or as the original furnisher of the debt. Collection agencies report to credit reporting agencies as a way to incentivize their debtors to pay off the collections.
These can appear as COLLECTION AGENCY / ORIGINAL CREDITOR in the credit report. In most cases, the collection agency will be alongside the original creditor, so it’s important to distinguish between the two.
Most credit reports will list the inquiries near the end of the report. There are two types of inquiries: hard and soft inquiries.
Soft inquiries are where credit cards companies, lenders, and loaners hit you with an inquiry that does not impact your overall credit score. Some reports don’t even show these types of inquiries because they have no real effect on your credit history or score. This is because these types of inquiries are done without the consent of the consumer to hand out pre-approved credit cards or loans.
Hard inquiries are the ones you have to worry about because they hit your credit score like pebbles against your window. They don’t have much of an effect individually, but if a lot of inquiries pile up, it can be a huge problem when trying to find a new line of credit or obtain a new loan. These inquiries are (usually) done with your consent as a result of creditors and furnishers checking your credit history. This is especially true if you ever go out car shopping. Sometimes places will ping your credit several times in a row, racking up a large number of inquiries.
One last thing to keep in mind when involving inquiries is that they may be under strange and unfamiliar names. Like with some revolving accounts, the inquiries might be abbreviated or seem completely foreign, but keep in mind that all these inquiries are just one arm of the massive financial giants.
Sometimes other things may appear on your credit report that do not fit any other category. Credit bureaus like Experian may offer a service like their Experian Boost which allows consumers to report their utility payments as a way to get a small boost to their credit score. Third-party companies may offer similar services, like ones that allow you to pay to show your rent payments on a credit report to get a score boost. These services may only appear on one of the credit bureaus instead of all three, but it’s a good, quick way to get a few points on your credit score.
If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 877-212-2450!
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