When I first earned a spot in the 800 club people asked me questions about how to raise their credit score. The truth is, it isn’t a quick process but it can be an easy one if you understand how to play the credit score game. I was proud of myself because I felt like it was a reflection of my hard work. I would dare say, it gave me validation, experience, and a sense of purpose. My credit score continued to rise to 827 and then one day I opened an email with my updated credit score to see that it reached 847. 8-4-7!!! That’s right, I was only 3 points away from a PERFECT credit score and being that close made me lust for more.
For me, I found a perfect credit score to be sexy and I felt sexy for being so close to having one. Yet, I knew that my lust was for a fleeting goal so I lingered in the honeymoon stage of my 847 for as long as I could. It lasted for two months. I was not surprised one bit, though, because to understand why my score plummeted is to first understand how credit scores are calculated.
How Are Credit Scores Calculated?
Your credit score is a combination of debt history (35%), the amount owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new debt (10%), and type of debt used (10%). I didn’t have a credit card in college so my debt history began 10+ years ago when I got two loans to cover my college tuition for a year. My student loans represented the longest payment history and second largest debt owed outside of my mortgage. That is to say, my 10 years of on-time payments and one year of deferment toward student loan debt represented the two highest percentages that are used to calculate one’s credit score.
As the length of the payment history increased, the amount owed on my student loans decreased, and my debt to credit ratio was swinging in my favor, it created a perfect storm of excellent creditworthiness as measured by my FICO score. Hint hint: THIS…is how you get into the 800 club. I was snowballing my student loan debt so that when faced with a future change to the income of our household, the Mr. and I decided to pay off the remaining $7K and be done with the debt once and for all. One would think that the lowering my debt to credit ratio by eliminating the student loan debt would be enough to increase my credit score the last 3 points, but the opposite was true. Paying off this debt completely had the biggest negative impact on my high credit score. I watched my credit score fall 37 points and then another 10 more. So lame.
Even so, I would rather have a debt paid in full and suffer the consequences of a lower credit score than to draw out a debt payoff to get a perfect FICO score. Yes, I found the idea of having a perfect credit score sexy, but there is nothing sexier than a PAID IN FULL student loan balance…except the Mr. in a 3 piece suit. They say happiness is the new rich and inner peace is the new success. By that description, my paid in full student loan debt and my new credit score makes me “rich”, “successful”, oh….and happy AF.