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Improving Your Credit Score - Common questions

Common questions

I missed a payment on my credit card. Will this show up on my credit report?

Yes. Even paying the debt in full after the due date will not remove the missed payment from your report. However, you won’t be saddled with that missed payment forever. After six years, it’ll be removed from your credit report. So when you review your report, make sure there are no missed payments there that are more than six years old.

How far back does my credit report go?

Generally, negative information stays on your credit report for six years. If you were convicted of a crime in May 1999, for example, that fact should not be in your credit report. 

One exception is an unpaid court judgment. A judgment is a debt you owe through the courts after a lawsuit. It can appear on your credit report until you pay it back.

Another exception is if you declare bankruptcy more than once. If you’ve declared bankruptcy two or more times, then a bankruptcy from more than six years ago can stay on your credit report. 

A credit reporting agency may keep positive information, like payments made on time, in your credit report for longer than six years.

Will keeping a zero balance on my credit card help my credit score?

Not really. Creditors actually prefer you keep a small balance on your credit card so you continue to pay interest. Ideally, you should have some activity on your card but keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit. (Generally, balances over 50% will lower your credit score.)

I’m not using a credit card. Will cancelling it help my credit score?

No. In fact, cancelling a credit card could lower your credit score. The older your credit activity, the higher your credit score will be. Cancelling a credit card with a high credit limit can also hurt your utilization ratio. This will lower your credit score. 

Instead of canceling your credit card, consider leaving the account open and carrying a small balance instead.