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Credit Report & Application

December 31st, 2007 at 02:45 am

While I do take advantage of the free annual credit reports you can get from the three reporting agencies. those reports don't tell you the actual FICO score. I haven't seen my FICO score since I bought my house two years ago, so today I decided to check up on what it was. I paid for a report from one of the agencies (of course, I checked online and found a promotional code so that I paid $12.76 for the report rather than $15.95), and my score is 770. That's within 20 points of where it was two years ago. I was surprised to note that one "negative" factor on my report is that my oldest account is only 8 years old--the report said that people in the top category have accounts that are 19 years old. I've certainly had credit for more than 19 years, but I guess I've changed banks as I've moved bewteen California, Michigan, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. Eight years ago is the time of my last inter-state move, so I guess that makes sense.

Another slightly negative factor is that I've applied for credit recently. My mortgage company offered me a card that gives me 1% back on my mortgage, so I applied for and received that. I figure that, in the long run, that's worth more than getting myself free gifts on (since my current rewards card is from Amazon). I did just yesterday decide to redeem about $125 of the $225 in rewards certificates I've earned this year.

While I was checking my account status, I noticed the Chase Freedom account banner. While the card gives me 3% back on purchases and 1% back on everything else, the Freedom card gives you 3% back on your top three categories of spending each month, whatever they are and whereever they were spent. Additionally, it allows you to redeem that $ back either as points that you can exchange for gifts, OR as cash back. After thinking about it, I decided that by getting cash back and then sending in that amount in extra mortgage payments, I would be able to put even more extra towards the mortgage, so I decided to apply for that card as well. I'll cancel the card when it comes so as not to have too many credit card accounts outstanding. I *was* going to cancel another VISA card I have until I realized that it is the oldest card in my wallet, two years older than any other. I may cancel that too, eventually. The additional credit card application may lower my score some temporarily, but I have no plans in the immediate future to apply for a loan, so a temporary lowering should not make much difference.

7 Responses to “Credit Report & Application”

  1. Ralph Says:

    Interesting. So what's the deal with the free credit reports? Why aren't they complete? I have left a wake of open credit cards as 0% rates have expired, so I guess I need to see what the damage is.

  2. Amber Says:

    I pay a small fee monthly to check my credit and score only because I decided I will be purchasing a townhouse in 2008. But now that I think of it that is stupid , thanks for the post because you just reminded me that I need to cancel this and pull my free credit report from one bureau every three months and before I apply for the loan get my scores

  3. baselle Says:

    If its been 8 years and its still on the credit report, get it off if you can. Negative items should only hang around for 7 years. (never mind - I misread your post)

    The one advantage of my WaMu credit card is that they will tell you your credit score for 1 year.

  4. Dido Says:

    Ralph: the reason you don't get a free FICO score is politics. You've only been able to get access to this information for free for a couple of years now and only after a lot of negotiating. Part of the law that enabled the free credit reports says that the agencies must also report the actual scores that lenders see for a "reasonable fee." The lobbyists won in terms of getting the fee into the law, but consumers won in that at least we can get access.

    Amber: yes, I used to pay the monthly fee back a few years ago. It adds up over time. Once the free credit reports went into place, I canceled the monthly and now just check the actual score periodically.

    Baselle: It's great that you get a free credit report with your credit card. (BTW, there's not a negative item that's been on my report for 8 years, it's that my credit history/oldest CC is only 8 years old.)

  5. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I don't know about the idea that 19 year old accounts are part of what get one into the highest category. I don't have any accounts that old, in fact I accidentally cancelled the wrong CC, taking out my oldest CC out of the formula (meant to cancel a different one--did not notice the error for months). Last I know of, my score was 815. Oh, I'd also applied for two new cards within before getting that score. So, I don't think applying for a new card automatically dampens your score much, if any.

  6. Dido Says:

    Joan: just reporting what the report said. Here's the quote:

    Your oldest account was opened 8 years ago. FICO High Achievers opened their oldest account 19 years ago, on average. Average age of your accounts: 3 years. Most FICO High Achievers have an average age of accounts between 6 and 12 years.

    So it's not just the age of the oldest account, but the average age--since your score is so much higher, your average age of accounts must be higher. I'm really not sure why mine is so low. I guess I looked for good credit card details and cancelled lots of accounts that I wasn't using, not being aware that this would hurt my FICO score.

  7. fern Says:

    Dido, even with that 1 negative item, you still have a very good score and are in the top tier.

    Your goals are very similar to mine, espeically $1, 4 & 5. I am also going to concentrate on lowering my annual grocery bill, but NOT be sacrificing good food. Shop Rite, here I come.

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