There is a lot of misinformation around credit cards and the best ways to build your credit. Below you’ll find some of the most common myths we hear from people. But don’t worry—we debunk each one and give you some advice you can actually use.
“Checking My Credit Score Will Lower It”
As long as you’re using a credit service like Credit Karma, you won’t hurt your score as long as you’re just checking your score. These services do something called a “soft credit inquiry”. Because these soft pulls aren’t connected to an application for credit, they don’t count against you.
“I Can Build a Good Credit Score with Debit Cards”
Actually, there isn’t credit attached to debit cards or prepaid cards. The only way to build your score is through making payments toward your credit cards and loans (think car payments, student loans, or a home loan payment). Using a credit card for small purchases and paying the full balance each month is a way to build credit without overextending yourself.
“I’ll Up My Score with a Big Purchase I Pay Off Slowly”
The amount of your purchase doesn’t affect your score. If you make ten purchases for $50 each, it’s the same weight as making one purchase for $500. In fact, making larger purchases could lower the amount of credit you have available, which could actually lower your score. The simplest advice to building credit is to only buy what you can afford and to pay off your balance each month.
“Closing a Credit Card Will Help My Score”
While you shouldn’t use a credit card if you aren’t able to make the payments, you also shouldn’t close it if you can help it. When you close a credit card, it is removed from your credit profile. This can lower the average age of your credit. If your account is in good standing, you can simply keep the card in a safe place at home and not use it.
“It Took Me a Long Time to Build Credit, So It Will Take A Long Time for It to Go Down”
It’s true that it takes years of good credit history to increase your score—but it can take only one missed payment to lower it quickly. In fact, it only takes a few months to have a great credit score ruined. After six months of nonpayment, your account is “charged-off”. This is one of the worst things that can happen to your score.
“A Bad Credit Score Lasts Forever”
This is one myth that feels good to bust. A bad score only lasts forever if you continue to hurt your score (making late payments, maxing out credit cards, letting bills go into collections). If you can manage your credit well, your score can improve. It will take time, but many people are able to repair damage done to their credit by using it responsibly.
Understanding how credit works is the first step to building and
maintaining a healthy credit score. The best credit scores can open doors to
much more buying power down the road, so it’s important to keep your score up
by making payments, using credit well, and staying on top of things with a
You can find lots of great credit report resources at usa.gov, the FTC can help you get a free credit report, and debt.org explains consumer credit and loans in a great way.
Lennar has launched its “Make Your Move” program to help young
professionals navigate first-time homeownership. You can find even more
resources and answers to lots of your questions by liking Lennar and Make Your
on Instagram and Facebook.