Question: Right before Thanksgiving, I got moved to a new job with my company. It came with a big fat raise. I mean, HUGE. So I checked my credit score with TransUnion like Debt.com said, and it wasn’t any higher. Does it take awhile for the raise to get listed? Or are those credit bureaus intentionally delaying this so they can get more money out me?
— Micky in Utah
Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…
Credit scores might look like simple three-digit numbers, but what goes into them is what’s complex. That’s where mistakes, myths, and conspiracy theories arise.
One myth is: “The more I earn, the better my credit score.” That’s simply not true, and for good reason.
What’s is a credit score?
A credit score isn’t based on how much money you have. It’s based on how much debt you owe. That makes sense when you really think about it. If your bank account is bulging with $1 million but your credit cards, mortgage, and auto loan total $2 million; then why would anyone lend you more money?
That’s all a credit score really is, by the way. It’s a prediction tool for lenders. It gives them a good idea — although no guarantee — that you will repay a loan made to you on time and in full.
It’s not all about how much money you earn
That’s why a middle-class person with no debt is more valuable to lenders (and let’s face it, to the success of our country) than a rich celebrity who blows all their money on parties, clothes, cars, and jewelry. It’s also why the five factors that go into your FICO credit score don’t include “income.”
Instead, they’re payment history, debt owed, length of credit history, new credit, and type of credit used. So if you haven’t used your raise to pay off your credit cards or make an extra car payment, your credit score is unaffected.
As for the credit bureaus making money, they do that mostly by charging lenders for your credit information, so they can make wiser decisions. Credit bureaus will also offer you services for credit monitoring and identity theft for a small fee, and while those services can be excellent, I suggest you shop around first for the best deal.
If I can be self-promotional for a moment, Debt.com has partners who offer these services at the best prices I could find. So you may want to check them out.
Have a debt question?
Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.