We get tons of questions from consumers about how their credit score has changed. People also want to know how to improve their credit score, and how their financial activity will affect it. We’ve talked here before about what’s in a credit report, but I want to take a close look at how credit scores are calculated. One of the most common questions I see from people on Facebook and on this blog is “How will closing an account affect my credit score?”
Unfortunately, I can’t say that closing a certain account will decrease your score by X points, or that paying off your balance on another account will raise your score by Y points. The reason I can’t tell you exactly what will happen to your credit score is that everyone’s credit is different, and everyone’s financial situation is different. (And no one else can tell you this, either, so watch out for scammers!)
For example, take someone who has no debt, an excellent credit history, and a good mix of types of accounts. Closing one account is probably not going to affect that person too much.
When you’re thinking about closing an account, you want to evaluate your credit situation and the types of accounts you have open to make the least, or most positive, impact on your credit score.
- What kind of accounts do you have? You want to maintain a healthy mix of accounts. How many open, revolving, or installment accounts do you have? If you have five revolving loans (most often credit cards), these are considered to be part of the same family. You can probably close one or two accounts within the same family without too much impact.
- How long have your accounts been open? Credit accounts that have been open for a long period of time are scored more favorably than recently opened accounts. Showing a history of paying your debts on time reflects more positively than having lots of credit accounts. If you want to streamline your accounts and close one or two of your credit cards, make sure you hold on to the cards you’ve held the longest.
People open credit accounts for many reasons and decide to close them for lots of different reasons. There isn’t a magic formula to opening or closing accounts and improving your credit score, because each situation is different. But if you evaluate your credit needs thoughtfully, you can make better decisions about your credit accounts.
For example, when I moved from California to Atlanta, it was the perfect time for me to examine my credit and personal finances. I decided to close the retail cards, because I wouldn’t be shopping at those stores anymore, but I kept my mortgages open. I have a long history of paying my mortgages on time, and it would be foolish to remove that positively contributing account from my credit report.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.