If you worry that checking your credit report too often might lower your credit score, you’re not alone. This common misconception is one of several myths about credit reports and scores preventing people from understanding their personal finances and maintaining good financial health.
The idea that examining your credit report can be detrimental, especially if you check your credit score often, is widespread and totally unfounded. In reality, regularly reviewing your credit score, especially with reliable services like Experian, can be a wise financial move. This practice not only helps you stay informed about your credit status but also enables you to make better decisions when it comes to applying for credit.
Myth 1 – Taking a credit check reduces your score
If you’ve heard this one, you’re not alone. A survey early this year by credit reporting firm Experian found 58% of those they questioned felt this would have consequences for their score. But it’s not true. While it’s correct that each credit check with Experian shows up on your report as a ‘soft search’, only you can see this. So if you’re not bothered about how many soft searches there are then nobody else will care either. What’s more, it’s usually a good plan to check your score before applying for credit.
Myth 2 – There’s a ‘credit blacklist’
This is one of the biggest myths out there. First of all, there is no shadowy blacklist (so you’re definitely not on it!) A lender will decide on your application based on the information they get from your credit report, alongside any other information they have such as from your credit application form. Those of us with patchy histories won’t necessarily be refused, but may struggle to get the headline deals. That generally means lower credit limits and higher interest rates. This is where improving your credit score can be useful (and a simple way to start is to get on the electoral roll).
Myth 3 – Being refused credit can affect your score
Of course a knockback hurts. But look on the bright side, if your application for credit is rejected it won’t appear on your report. This myth perhaps took hold (68% of the Experian interviewees believed it) because of something called a ‘hard inquiry’. These happen when you apply to a lender and they ask to check your credit. These will appear on your credit report and can affect your score slightly. You can’t really avoid hard inquiries, so it’s a good idea to apply only for credit you really need. You can check your eligibility for credit products on the Experian website before you apply, to help avoid unsuccessful applications and therefore wasted hard searches. It’s also a good plan to (you’ve guessed it) check your credit score before applying to ensure it’s in good shape.
Myth 4 – People you live with or previous occupants can affect your score
Just like passwords and the cold virus, credit scores are not for sharing. Nobody else has any bearing on your credit report (unless you apply to borrow jointly with a partner). Even if demand letters are arriving at your address for a previous resident, this isn’t something that will count against you. Similarly, your credit report will only be linked to that of a partner if you’ve made a joint application. In this instance, their behaviour could have a bearing on your score.