April 1st, 2013

10 Credit Myths That Fool the Best of Us

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10 Credit Myths That Fool the Best of Us | Credit Karma Blog

It’s no April Fools’ joke! Credit myths and rumors are unfortunately spread around all the time, especially on the World Wide Web.

We’ve talked about lots of these myths over the years, and today we’re wrangling 10 of the most common credit myths to help set things straight. No foolin’!

1. “Checking my own credit will hurt my score.”

This is false false false. When you check your own credit (score or report) it’s called a soft inquiry. Unlike pesky hard inquiries, soft inquiries don’t affect your credit at all. Wouldn’t it be terrible to be penalized for being responsible and checking your credit? So feel free to check your score on Credit Karma regularly; it won’t affect your score at all! I recommend checking once a month.

2. “I have one credit score – that’s the one lenders check.”

This is one of the biggest myths out there. Thankfully, more people are being educated on the fact that there are lots of different credit scores that lenders use, not just the FICO score. The credit score your lender chooses to use can depend on lots of factors, so it’s smart to have a good understanding of your overall credit health rather than one three-digit number in mind. Credit Karma CEO Ken Lin wrote an article for the Huffington Post all about this.

3. “Checking my score every day will help push off old inquiries.”

This is a common rumor perpetuated in online forums all about credit scores and credit reports. People believe that if you check your score enough, inquiries will magically disappear. And they insist that it works. But it doesn’t. Hard inquires fall off your credit report after two years. Unless you have an unauthorized inquiry on your report, waiting that two-year period is the only way to get rid of a hard inquiry.

4. “My gender is on my credit report.”

There is lots of confusion surrounding the information that is or isn’t included on your credit report. I’d like to set the record straight that things like your gender, age, race, ethnicity and even marital status aren’t on there. You can check out a more comprehensive list in Do You Know What’s NOT In Your Credit Score?

5. “My employer can see my credit score.”

Another myth perpetuated by the online world. Your employer cannot check your credit score. However, he can check your credit report. This usually happens with potential job candidates, most often for positions with fiduciary responsibilities.

6. “Carrying a balance on my credit cards will help my score.”

Some people think that they need to show a current balance on their credit cards to prove credit utilization, but this isn’t the case. Just using your cards on a regular basis will show this activity and build your credit. In the end, carrying a balance from month to month will just cost you in interest. You can learn more in this video.

7. “My income factors into my credit score.”

Another myth ready for the busting! Your income isn’t one of the factors in your credit score. However, it’s important to know that it is one of the factors that comes into play when creditors set your credit limit. You can learn more about that in this video.

8. “Cosigning on a loan won’t affect my credit.”

When you cosign on someone else’s loan, you’re putting your credit at risk. The loan will go on your credit report and any activity—good or bad—will affect your credit health accordingly. That’s why cosigning is such a serious decision.

9. “I’m married, so now I have a joint credit report.”

Your credit report is yours, till death do you part. At no point do you have a “joint credit report,” even if you have joint accounts with your spouse. When this happens, the accounts will appear on both credit reports, but the reports don’t merge in any way.

10. “I have to pay for my credit report.”

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus during a 12-month period (that doesn’t necessarily follow the calendar year). The government-approved website for your free reports is AnnualCreditReport.com; make sure not to use a site that promises free reports but asks for your credit card number.

What’s the weirdest credit myth you’ve heard?


is the Communications Manager at Credit Karma, where she’s been since February 2011. When she’s not writing about credit and finance all over the web, you can find her playing her guitar, catching the latest movie, training for her next race or just exploring the city of San Francisco. Say “Hi” on Twitter: @bhardeman.

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Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. Love your site! I have a question, On your videos what is a good credit score, you talk about 720 being the magic number. Is this number the Credit Karma score or the Vantage score?


    Lonnie at 4:31 pm on April 1, 2013
  2. Funny your blog not talking about changes to your site — just standard credit advice. Especially when you make major changes.

    PJ at 4:15 am on April 2, 2013
  3. Bethy,
    One of my buddies thought that using credit card rewards is good for you credit report. I had to politely tell him that’s not the case, but it’s at least good to take advantage of rewards points.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

    Christian L. at 8:47 am on April 2, 2013
  4. I work in the dispute department for one of the credit bureaus. Visit my site http://www.creditpreparation.com. I break down and explain alot about credit and what you can do to help yourself. You can also email me directly if you have questions.

    Joe Doughtry at 9:08 pm on June 8, 2013
  5. It’s crazy how many myths are out there regarding credit. I think #6 is one that I’ve heard a lot of confusion around. I’ve asked my friends and family what their take is on carrying a balance and gotten all kinds of answers. It’s great to know you are clearing up the confusion on this!

    Jennifer at 6:29 am on April 24, 2014
  6. Mike

    Thanks for the comment Jennifer! We’ve heard a lot of confusion on that subject too. In fact, we just published a new article on the issue. Check it out here: https://www.creditkarma.com/article/when-should-i-pay-my-credit-cards

    Mike at 2:02 pm on April 24, 2014
  7. I am confused relative to actual credit scores as they are reported for consumers. Why is Credit Karmas’ Trans Union Credit Score so different than the score reported on sites like Equidata? This specific site reports my Trans Union Score about 97 points below that of Credit Karma.

    Any ideas may be helpful to my understanding.

    Thank you.


    Ron at 6:27 pm on July 1, 2014
  8. Mike

    Hi Ron – Thanks so much for your question. It’s one we see a lot. Your credit score can and will often differ between different credit bureaus, so the score you see here, which comes directly from TransUnion, won’t always match what you may see on Equifax. I’d recommend the following article for more information: https://www.creditkarma.com/article/differentscores


    Mike at 9:09 am on July 2, 2014

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