5 On Your Side

What you should know about your credit score

Posted October 10, 2019 6:37 a.m. EDT

— Do you know your credit score? Here's a look at everything that number impacts and everything impacted by that number.

Your credit score affects many things, from whether you get a good interest rate on a loan to deposits required for rent and utilities. It can even determine whether you're hired for a job.

But what plays into that number? When it comes to what influences your credit score, experts say there's some confusion.

Payment history is a main component -- do you make payments on time or are you late?

Unpaid parking or traffic tickets do not affect your credit score. Those come from municipal records and aren’t collected by any of the credit reporting agencies.

Experts say opening a bunch of credit cards at the same time, however, will impact your score.

“Opening up a lot of credit cards in a short period of time can have a negative impact because it suggests you might be in credit trouble," said Tobie Stanger, an editor with Consumer Reports.

According to Stanger, you can check your credit report at any time without it affecting your credit score.

On annualcreditreport.com, you can get one free report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus -- so it's usually best to space them out and get one every four months. However, if you're about to apply for a big loan, such as  a mortgage, Consumer Reports recommends getting the reports at the same time so that  you can correct any errors before you apply.

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