Why Did My Credit Score Drop After Paying Debt
There are several factors that make up your credit score, and paying off debt does not positively affect all of them. Paying off debt may lower your credit score if it changes your credit mix, or average account age. Here are some scenarios that could negatively affect your credit score:
- You eliminated your only installment loan or revolving debt: Creditors like to see that youre able to manage various types of debt. And if eliminating a particular debt makes your credit report less diverse, it can negatively affect your score. For example, if you pay off an auto loan and are left with only credit cards, your credit mix suffers.
- Youve increased your overall credit utilization: Keeping the overall utilization of your available credit low results in a better score. But when you pay off a revolving line of credit or credit card in its entirety and close the account or let the account go inactive , it decreases the total amount of credit you have available, potentially increasing your remaining utilization rate.
- Youve lowered the average age of your accounts: The longer your accounts have been open and in good standing, the better. Having a 20-year old account on your report is a good sign, even if you dont use it; closing that account and being left with accounts no more than five years old dramatically reduces the average age of your accounts.
Why Debt Settlement Can Ding Your Credit Score
Why should it have a negative impact, when you’re lightening the load of your obligations and your creditors are getting some money? Because strong credit scores are designed to reward those accounts that have been paid on time according to the original before they’re closed.
A debt settlement planin which you agree to pay back a portion of your outstanding debtmodifies or negates the original credit agreement. When the lender closes the account due to a modification to the original contract , your score gets dinged. Other lenders are likely to take notice and be warier about granting credit to you in the future, too.
Still, it is possible that the reduced debt burden is worth a subsequent drop in your credit score. The high and late or missed payments have likely already lowered it somewhat. If debt settlement jump-starts your path toward a sounder financial future, it should be considered.
Let’s examine the process in more detail.
Will Paying Off Old Debt Boost Your Credit Score?
Does Paying Off All Debt Increase Credit Score
Lets take a look at a few ways these factors can affect your . Your utilization or amounts owed will see a positive bump as you pay off debts. Paying off a card or line of can significantly improve your utilization and, in turn, significantly raise your .
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Q: What Is The Best Way To Pay Off Debt And Raise Credit Score
Ans: Make payments on time. This is the best way to pay off debt and improve credit score simultaneously. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score. When you make payments on time, it helps to add positive payment history to your credit report. This, in turn, makes a good impact on your FICO score.
Another good way to repay debt and improve credit score at the same time is to pay off the entire amount. Yes, when accounts are paid in full, they make a positive impact on your credit score since youre paying the full amount. Your account status is updated as paid in full on your credit report. The new account status also leaves a good impression on the potential lenders since they understand that you’re a responsible borrower.
You Submitted Too Many Credit Applications
Every hard inquiry on your credit report puts a small ding in your credit score. Several in quick succession can have a noticeable impact. The issue is that opening multiple new credit accounts at once raises the chances of you getting overextended.;
Of course, that risk may not apply to you at all. Perhaps youre taking advantage of historically low interest rates to refinance your car, home, and a personal loan, for example. While that is a smart move on your part, the credit score formula doesnt address that scenario very well which is why you might see your score drop even though youve moved into debt with better terms.
Inaccurate Information On Your Credit Reports
Sometimes creditors make credit reporting errors. Because of this, its a good idea to review each one of your reports from the three major credit bureausEquifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can view all three of your reports for free weekly through April 20, 2022 by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
While reviewing your reports, check to make sure your accounts and personal information are correct. If you spot an error, dispute it with each credit bureau that lists it online, by mail or phone. Also, keep in mind that if you see an account that you never opened, it could be a sign you are a victim of identity theft.
If you believe someone has stolen your identity, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission through IdentityTheft.gov and freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus as soon as possible .
Determination Of The Immediate Cause
Of course, the drop in your score didnt happen for no reason, but the reasons it happened may be very different. At first, you have to make sure that it really happened because the debt has been paid off, and not because of other actions. Maybe you dont understand how the score works and the reasons why your credit rating might have dropped. It could fall due to the following reasons. For example, you have rarely used your card lately, or you were late with monthly payments. As we stated previously, while there are a great many reasons, there is no exhaustive list.
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Reasons Your Credit Score Might Drop When You Pay Off Debt
When you pay debt off, you assume your credit score will always go up. After all, arent you supposed to be rewarded for your financial prowess and responsibility?;Why do some people report a credit score drop after eliminating debt, then?
The temporary drop isnt worrisome, but here are some reasons why it might happen to you.
You decreased your overall credit limit
Dont get us wrong, paying off credit cards before other debts is almost always the best move as credit cards carry the highest interest debt. However, paying them down reduces your credit utilization ratio, aka the percentage of open credit youre using. Your credit utilization ratio determines 30 percent of your FICO score. When you close old credit cards after you pay them off, youll increase your credit utilization, so your score is likely to take a hit.;
Unless your card carries a pricey fee, consider leaving it open.
Your credit mix altered
When you have a healthy mix of credit cards, a car loan and a mortgage, your credit score reflects this in a positive way. Your credit mix makes up 10 percent of your score in FICOs model. Paying off a loan or two while continuing to pay off credit cards means your mix might change enough that you lose some points to your score.;
Your credit age declined
Not paying off a loan just to keep an account open is silly, though. When youre ready to pay off a loan, just pay it off.
What Happens To Your Credit Score When You Pay Off All The Debt
Some people assume that paying off their debt will solve all their money problems. They think that after paying off debt, their credit health will improve overnight. But, unfortunately it is not the fact.
Paying off all your debts help your credit score to flourish, but it may not always happen in every case.
At first, you have to understand the factors that can improve credit score.
As per the FICO, the credit score is based on the length of credit, new credit, how much debt you owe, the payment history of your debts, and types of credit you use.
- Payment history approximately 35%
- Length of credit history approximately 15%
- New credit approximately 10%
- Types of credit in use approximately 10%
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What Makes Up My Credit Score
Below is a breakdown of the six parts of your credit score, based on the VantageScore 3.0® model.
The #1 Way To Give Your Score A Boost
It can be frustrating to see your credit score drop when you know your financial situation has actually improved. Stay the course and be patient. As long as you continue to maintain a mix of credit accounts and history of making on-time payments, most likely it will be only a temporary setback.
The number one thing you can do is take the money you used to make that monthly loan payment and put that same amount toward paying down other debt.
If you do this, youll improve two of the other factors in your credit score: total amount owed and credit utilization. According to VantageScore, total amount owed is moderately influential to your credit score, while , the proportion of money you owe to your available credit, is highly influential.
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Should You Care If Your Credit Score Drops
Any dip in your score will probably be temporary. Most people see their scores recover within a few months.
Even though its frustrating to see your score drop, keep in mind that lenders consider a lot of factors in determining whether to approve you for credit and how much interest youll pay. One important consideration is your debt-to-income ratio, which will probably be lower after you pay off debt. But if youre planning a major purchase, it could be worth waiting a few months until your score bounces back.
The bottom line: Never hang onto debt just because youre worried about the impact on your credit score. Paying off debt is a good thing, regardless of what your credit score says.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to
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What To Do When Your Score Drops From Closing Accounts
In this case, your score should rebound eventually if you keep paying your bills on time. Unless you need a new loan soon, waiting for that rebound is the simplest solution. Alternatively, you can ask your other accounts for credit line increases to offset the available credit lost with the closed account.
What Can Happen After You Pay Off Your Loan
Once you pay off your personal loan, your lender reports it and stops sending the credit agencies monthly updates about your account. Since the credit agencies now have less information about you to work with, all else remaining equal, suddenly having no installment debt may cost you some points.
Thats because ongoing data about the progress youre making on fixed loan payments contributes to your overall picture of financial stability. So, if that personal loan was your only installment account, you may look like;a slightly bigger credit risk now than you did before.
While every credit profile is different, here are a couple of other reasons that could cause a credit score drop after paying off debt:
- If you only have debt on revolving accounts , its more difficult for credit agencies to tell if youre using credit responsibly or treading water.
- If after paying off your loan you happen to apply for new credit, depending on your timing, it can be viewed as a sign of a negative turn in your finances.
> Pro Tip: Once your loan is paid off, take a look at your credit report as it may show the account as fully paid or closed. But these distinctions arent necessarily whats driving your credit score. Instead, your score is more likely affected by the fact that your account is no longer active or open. If you have specific questions about your credit score, contact FICO to learn more about what impacts your score, and what you can do about it.
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Keep Accounts Active And Open
Every year that you maintain all your credit accounts without opening a new one, your average age of credit increases. The older your average age of credit, the better your credit score, and the smaller the negative impact of opening a new account.
Keeping all your accounts open also ensures that you are maintaining the maximum line of credit possible, which allows you to borrow more without overextending your credit utilization.
You Closed Your Credit Card
Closing a credit card account, especially your oldest one, hurts your credit score because it lowers the overall credit limit available to you and it brings down the overall average age of your accounts. The length of your credit history makes up 15% of your FICO score, which is why experts recommend building credit at a young age. The longer you can show you have had credit, the better for your credit score.
The exception to this is if you are paying for a credit card that you no longer use. In today’s world where travel is nearly nonexistent, that may mean closing your luxury travel credit card with a steep annual fee, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which new cardholders pay $550 per year for. It could also mean closing your;secured credit card that you paid a deposit for to receive a credit limit, such as with the Capital One® Secured.
Before closing your card, talk to your issuer and see if you can either downgrade to a no annual fee card or, in the case of a secured card, upgrade to an unsecured credit card. This could help you preserve the credit line so that it doesn’t show up as being closed on your report, while getting you a card that’s better suited for your needs.
Information about the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card and Capital One® Secured has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
Petal 2 Visa Credit Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.
You Closed The Account
Aside from excessive shopping sprees, nothing spikes your credit utilization quicker than cutting off a line of credit entirely. If you close a credit account, any existing debt on other accounts will suddenly take up a larger proportion of your credit portfolio.
For instance, imagine that you have three credit cards, each with a credit limit of $1,000.
You primarily use one card, and that card has a current debt balance of $750. You decide, since you hardly use the other two cards, you might as well close one of them.
However, in doing so, youve cut your total line of credit from $3,000 to $2,000. Your credit utilization suddenly goes from 25% to 37.5%, and your .
You Closed Credit Accounts
Closing out unused credit cards can lower your credit score because it raises your utilization rate. Say you have three credit cards: a VISA, Mastercard, and a Kohls credit card you opened to save 20% at the register. Each has a limit of $3,000. You have $2,500 outstanding on your Mastercard.
With all three accounts open, your utilization rate is about 28%. Close out the Kohls card and your available credit drops to $6,000, pushing your utilization rate up to 42%.
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