The Elusive 800

I’ve always had good credit by most peoples’ standards (maybe not yours, considering where we are.) :slight_smile: But as our wealth has grown over the years, our actual credit score never seemed to change a lot, always ranging from … almost guessing here … the mid 700s to the upper-middle 700s. The numbers are vague because I never paid a whole lot of attention, but only “checked in” to our scores maybe once or twice a year at most.

Recently I’ve been considering paying off 100% of our debt. We didn’t owe much, but we had a small loan on one of our 4 cars (don’t even remember why that came to be, but it involved buying a car we had leased for 3 yrs) and a low-6-figure balance on our home mortgage with an interest rate of only 3-1/8%. I could not determine whether paying off all debt would raise or lower our credit score! Our accountant said he would have to go through enough details that the cost wouldn’t be worth getting the answer. Personally, I think he should have found out anyway, but I’m easy …

But a guy gets tired of various companies having all the keys to one’s checking account. At least I did. Everyone wants us to sign up for whatever they call their brand of “AutoPay” so they can grab their payments directly from checking. It is handy, I have to admit, and usually pretty much trouble-free. But it’s kind of scary and rubs me the wrong way, that we no longer have the right to define a payment amount, or refuse a payment, when something goes “wrong” or someone doesn’t do what they were supposed to, in order for us to pay their invoices. On the other hand, I seldom have to actually sit down and “pay bills” either. That’s handy.

So for the last 3-4 years, I’ve tracked our payments closely, and our credit scores on creditkarma (also known as Intuit, masters of QuickBooks and Quicken.) It’s pretty frightening to me, that my credit, or lack thereof, depends on a company that has such crappy financial software that barely, sorta, sometimes, kinda works if you’re patient and lucky. Then came the current market plunge, oh my! You folks probably don’t know there is one, since blue chip stocks don’t get their feathers ruffled near as much as “my” companies do, as they’ve lost roughly 60% (not a typo) of their value YTD. Of course, they will rise again one of these days, or years–hopefully before I kick the bucket, but whatever happens, it will be what it will be.

Until the last 6 months or so, our investing returns far outweighed any interest we were paying, so it was difficult to justify paying off any debt, let alone all debt. Financially, we were considerably better off to invest any funds which could otherwise have been used to pay off debt.

A couple months ago, the scale shifted ever so slightly. I decided, “Screw it, enough pondering.” Maybe the simple peace of mind from knowing we owed no one, would become worth even more than the (previous) investing gains. First, I paid off the car (easy), paid off the mortgage (not too hard) and even paid off my son’s student loans, which hurt only because he would maybe lose the lessons I wanted him to learn from the experience of owing for his education (and now he’s shooting for a PhD–should I feel very disappointed? Not.) I considered not telling him about the payoff, but Discover said for their part, they had to disclose to OOS (OneAndOnlySon), and of course that’s more honest. Hopefully, he’ll be grateful when he finds out, but that’s not the real point, is it.

But our credit score didn’t change! Well, to qualify that statement, it eventually began to creep upward ever so slowly, 1, 2 or maybe a few, points at a time until today, when I found our Equifax score reads 801. Hold off on the Champaign, Fools, the Transunion score sits at a miserly 794, the tightwads. Now, other than by winning the lottery or using cash instead of credit cards for our daily purchases (paid off monthly, of course, but the balances often become substantial during a month) I have no idea how I would further raise our credit score.

The best part of this experience though, is this: They can assign me any number they want for a credit score. I no longer give a shlt!

Another cool effect of this experience is that our first would-have-been-a-mortgage payment, was instead donated to Ukrainian refugees. Hey! I could get used to this debt-free stuff! Why didn’t you folks tell me? < Really, you did? > Oh. Darn. My bad.

Meanwhile, like so many goals and plateaus in life, 800 is so very anticlimactic, and means less than knowing the number of grains of sand in the Gobi *. But the journey … my friends, methinks it’s the journey that makes up our very lives. Oh, what a fantastic journey that can be.


  • As of this instant, there are 864,971,461,387,372 grains in, or over, the boundaries of the Gobi, and 627,138,246,594 more from the Gobi, currently blowing over the Pacific, 82.17% of which will be carried to the Amazon rain forest, which is precisely what makes the rain in the Amazon. Seriously, it’s 100% true. Look it up. Well, except for the numbers, which are utter fiction. Or heck, maybe not, I mean, who knows? :slight_smile:
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  • As of this instant, there are 864,971,461,387,372 grains in, or over, the boundaries of the Gobi, and 627,138,246,594 more from the Gobi, currently blowing over the Pacific, 82.17% of which will be carried to the Amazon rain forest, which is precisely what makes the rain in the Amazon. Seriously, it’s 100% true. Look it up. Well, except for the numbers, which are utter fiction. Or heck, maybe not, I mean, who knows? :)"

And the moral is “Whatever you do, don’t drop your hourglass.”

Howie52
Paid off the mortgage before the kiddie widdums went off to college and basically kept debt
to a minimum and the emergency fund well stocked.

There is no one way to do things - you live as abilities, circumstance and dumb luck allow.

You plan but always suspect that something somehow will go wrong.

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Hi RaptorD2,

The FICO scoring system is kind of stupid, IMO.

Every bill I have is automated to pay the balance, so no input from me is required.

For the past bunch of years, my score ran between 800 and 835.

When I would charge a little more than normal on a card, the score goes down.

Last winter, I charged a water heater, oven, cook top, all our faucets and some other materials. My “Utilization Rate” hit 29% and my score dropped to 765, BAM!

Well, the card auto-payed and the next billing raised the score to 799.

Then I bought every light fixture for the house and shop. Score 763, BAM!

After the payment, 799 again!

Then I bought a new mower, tile and flooring. I expect another BAM soon.

If I let the balance run, making partial payments or if I had late payments, I could understand.

But simple short-term usage with immediate pay-off causing all these drops just seems dumb to me.

Maybe I am too simple.

Gene
All holdings and some statistics on my Fool profile page
http://my.fool.com/profile/gdett2/info.aspx

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But simple short-term usage with immediate pay-off causing all these drops just seems dumb to me.
If you care about the score, you could ask your CC to increase the limit so that your larger purchases don’t result in 29% usage. With a history of usage and a good payment record, it’s likely they’ll be willing to do that.

What you view as “simple short term usage” is likely matching patterns of people that are becoming more likely to default (increased utilization rates can easily be a result of someone losing a job and needing to borrow money while they look for a job). So the score reflects that.

I haven’t looked at my score in over a year. I think one of them was >800, and the other two were high 700s. When I was looking at mortgages I think at least one lender/broker told me that anything over 760 was treated the same.

But our credit score didn’t change! Well, to qualify that statement, it eventually began to creep upward ever so slowly, 1, 2 or maybe a few, points at a time until today, when I found our Equifax score reads 801. Hold off on the Champaign, Fools, the Transunion score sits at a miserly 794, the tightwads. Now, other than by winning the lottery or using cash instead of credit cards for our daily purchases (paid off monthly, of course, but the balances often become substantial during a month) I have no idea how I would further raise our credit score.

Here’s how you do it: Open some credit cards. Part of your credit score is to have available credit you are not using. And unused credit swamps out any minor ding a credit pull might have.

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I haven’t looked at my score in over a year.

I haven’t looked at mine in over twenty years, at least. The house is paid off, the cars are all bought with cash, I have a half dozen credit cards with high limits which are paid off monthly, and there is no other debt of any kind.

Why do I care what a credit rating firm thinks of me?

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I never knew what my FICO score was until Discover Card started giving one as part of the monthly statement, so maybe 7-10 years ago. So I was already well established career wise, had no debt (not even a mortgage), and had always paid off credit cards in full. When I got my first score it was around 810. My score was always 800-835 only once dropping briefly to 780 when one month put football season tickets, a years worth on health insurance premiums, and some woodworking equipment on the card. Outside of that, things are pretty steady month to month so score doesn’t vary much.

Discover does do a good job at explaining what affects the score in general but not specific for a monthly change. The only thing I can figure is change in credit limit usage. Even though I have a high enough limit to walk into a dealer and buy just about any car on the lot, a change of 3-5% usage to 8% seems to freak FICO out. Even though I’ve always paid in full for 30 years. Didn’t ask for that high, the cards “gave” it to me, but I didn’t argue either, figure would help in an extreme emergency.

I’ve always been debt averse. Paid off mortgage early and never had a car loan. Peace of mind is hard to put a dollar figure but worth any missed investing opportunities I might have had.

JLC

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Why do I care what a credit rating firm thinks of me?

Some insurance companies use it to help determine rates. Some places have made that illegal recently.

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For a while my FICO score was 850. After paying off the mortgages it dropped to the mid-800’s where it sits today. Our only debt is our two credit cards, which are paid off monthly and a zero balance HELOC.

As other’s have said, I’m not getting new credit, so why worry?

Closed my AE plat card after being a customer for 37 years. Score went from 810 to 794. Tells me I need more credit cards. I don’t think so.

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Tells me I need more credit cards
Did it actually say that?
Or did it go down because the average age of your credit lines decreased?
(I’m assuming that the 37 year account was one of your older accounts, so the average age went down, not up)

BTW - the “score” you saw that went from 810 to 794 may or may not be the same as one of the scores that would be used by a mortgage lender, etc. There are numerous scores out there, even a single bureau has multiple scores that they calculate. And depending on which score you’re looking at, you may be looking at one that’s actually used by lenders, or one that’s just a pretty similar calculation as what’s used by lenders

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Closed my AE plat card after being a customer for 37 years. Score went from 810 to 794. Tells me I need more credit cards. I don’t think so.

Instead of closing it, you should have downgraded it to a no annual fee card like the Amex Everyday card. That will keep your credit usage number constant and has the added benefit of also being a repository for any Membership Reward points you still have.

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Yes, it actually stated I was not utilizing enough credit and advised securing another card. Agreed, should have downgraded I suppose, but my credit history at my age does not bother me and never really given it any thought. No mortgage, loans, etc. In fact, when we had that Equifax data breach, I froze Equifax and Experian and haven’t to date unfrozen them. Just checked, TransUnion has me at 814. In this day and age, the less info they have on you, the better. That Data Breach was bad enough and already once had my SS number being used after Hurricane Irma to feed and house a family of 5! Do miss seeing on AE Platinum card, member since 1982, but then again, with very little travel these days and not using any of the perks they offer, I can ignore that snobbishness for the annual fee of nearly $700.00! Slight bit of belt tightening these days as well, now if the Fed keeps raising each month by 50 points and we see 5% interest on savings say in two to three years…happy days are here again and if we get to the situation of 10-15% savers rates a la 1980’s might get two AE Plat Cards:-)))) But I am dreaming and digress here somewhat.

In answer to MarkR, they did transfer all my existing reward points to Virgin.

Tells me I need more credit cards
Did it actually say that?

Not sure where he checked his score, but it it was creditkarma, they say exactly that. I don’t think I’ve ever been on their site when they didn’t tell me I should have the newest, greatest cc, and throw popup credit card offers in my face. The sad thing is, it isn’t always the same card.

Why do I care what a credit rating firm thinks of me?

Some insurance companies use it to help determine rates

Yes, I know that’s true, but there’s nothing I’m going to do that’s going to change my credit profile more than a couple jigs up or down, and it’s not worth it to me to worry about it. I’ve been with Amica for ore than 20 years because their service is astonishingly fast and non-controversial, their price is reasonable, and it’s a mutual company so we get a check back from them each year for their “excess profits”.

In a bad year, with lots of tornadoes and such elsewhere in the country that might only be $80; some years it’s in the hundreds. Maybe it’s marketing, but I like the idea that when they have overestimated losses they give it back to the policy holders instead of in a bonus to the CEO.

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As always with these threads, you might want to just use a ruler.

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What do the females measure?

PSU

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If you care about the score,

This is me caring about my FICO score.

:sleeping::sleeping::sleeping:

CNC

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What do the females measure?

We generally don’t feel the need to measure. But some of us will talk behind each others’ backs, and in the south we might add the ultimate FU phrase: “I heard her credit score was only 750. Bless her heart!”

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All this talk about credit scores made me curious about my own score. Turns out I have been 800-plus for the last 10 months. (From a low of 805 to a high of 823.) It varies a little every month, but I can’t figure any rhyme or reason why. Sometimes it’s up several points, sometimes it’s down several points. Doesn’t matter much anyway, as I doubt that I’ll be taking out any loans in the future…

culcha

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