Are we all tired of hearing yet that “It’s a New Year! Time to Keep Resolutions! Set Goals! Make Changes!” Yeah, we are, too. So in the interests of ‘moving-right-along,’ we’d like to touch on a subject that seems to make all the “What to do in 2016” lists a lot, but in reality requires diligence to keep in line. Day in and day out, year after year after year.

Yes – we’re talking about your credit score.

The reason we bring it up is because “in the old days” (i.e., sort of before the internet) – your credit used to work like this:

• You pay your bills on time.

• You develop a good credit score.

• You can get a loan or line of credit when you need one.

These days, not so much. There are more things that can actually affect your credit score – both good and bad – than ever before. In fact, there are a lot of things that you probably feel shouldn’t rely on your credit score – but they can still end up costing you money (from higher credit card and mortgage loan charges to auto insurance and more).

The fact is, the state of your credit history can have a huge affect on the things you’re able to do in life. From job opportunities to owning a home. So we’d like to point out a few things you may not know about what does – and doesn’t – make a difference to your credit score.

Whaaaaat?!!! (aka “These Things Matter To My Credit?”)

Renting a car with a debit card can affect your credit. How? Some car rental agencies might see it as a red flag that you aren’t using a credit card, so they’re going to check and see if you can be trusted. It’ll count as a hard inquiry and could cost a few points on your score

Not paying a parking ticket. You might think you pulled a fast one on the local municipality by not paying a parking ticket, but they might have the last laugh. Some cities send your unpaid tickets to collections agencies, and your credit score can take a beating if you have an account in collections. So, while you might think you saved $65 on a parking ticket, you could be paying hundreds of dollars more on a new loan because you might not get favorable terms based on the decrease in your credit score. The same for utility bills, back rent and other expenses.

Getting a New Cell Phone. Opening a new mobile account could also initiate a hard credit inquiry. Although each hard inquiry shouldn’t drop your score too drastically, you’ll want to be careful not to initiate too many in too short a time, or else these little actions can really add up.

Things You Think Should Matter – But Don’t

How much money you make. Now seriously, of anything that affects your financial status, what could possible matter more? And yet, nowhere on your credit report is your income reflected. That’s not to say that anyone you’ve asked to extend you credit won’t make that inquiry, or that the results of a high or low income may ultimately show up in other ways on your report. But as far as your credit history alone – it makes no difference.

Your Debit Card History. For those who were raised with the theory “If you can’t pay cash, don’t get it” – they’re probably more quick to pull out the debit card than the credit card at the purchase counter. But in doing so – you’re using cash you already have (another thing that doesn’t show up on your credit report: Your net worth or cash in the bank). So it’s not demonstrating your ability to utilize and responsibly manage credit. In fact, many people have zero information on their credit history because they chose not to borrow money or pay for things with credit. So literally, by staying out of debt – you’re working against your own credit score.

Spent time in prison? Your credit history won’t show it. However, while it’s true your criminal record is typically ignored, civil judgments can and do appear on your credit report. This includes everything from bankruptcies and tax liens to monetary judgments and overdue child support payments in some states.

The Things That Really Do Matter To Your Credit Score

1. The best thing you can do is pay your bills on-time. 35% of your credit score is your payment history.

2. If you can’t pay them on-time, make sure you pay something each month. Completely ignoring your bills is much worse than paying late. And having an account charged off gives potential lenders historic proof that a company lent you money and you didn’t pay it back, (Need we point out that’s not a good thing?)

3. Help your score by keeping your credit card balances low in relation to your credit limit.

4. Avoid tax liens, bankruptcies and foreclosures.

If buying a home is on your list of things to do anytime soon – or even in the distant future – it is literally never too early to start focusing on building your credit history and credit score. For more tips on what you can do to help improve your ability to get a mortgage loan, take a look at this blog post from Premier Mortgage Lending. (Seven Things To Do To Improve Your Credit Score.)

New Home Resource helps current and future homeowners with all of their Las Vegas real estate needs. Whether your preference is for a newly-built home from a local builder, or a resale property in just the right location, a New Home Resource Realtor® is here to find the perfect property for you. Please contact a New Home Resource Realtor® today at 702-365-1000 or at Broker Joanna Piette, and agents Denise Moreno Thrasher, Jessica O’Brien, Evelyn ‘Beng’ Kern, Lance Partin and Kathy Paterniti are all here to help!