“Why isn’t my credit score improving?”
I’ve been paying my bills every month on time and nothing changes on Credit Karma. I feel like I’m stalking the app. What should I do?
Submitted by Michelle S.
Congrats on paying your bills on time! Can we just celebrate that for a moment?
What Impacts Your Credit Score
Paying your bills will not reflect your credit score unless those bills are payments on your loans. Utility bills are not reported on a credit report unless you don’t pay for a long time and they get sent to collections.
Improving your credit score can take time, so determine if checking frequently is good for you emotionally. Each credit bureau has their “secret sauce” of how they calculate your credit score, taking in multiple factors (not just payment) to reach the final number.
How to Use Credit Karma
Credit Karma is a tool to help you monitor your score and items that are reported to Transunion and Equifax. The credit reporting agencies ultimately are the companies that lenders report to, and how they do so affects your score.
Credit Karma may offer suggestions for banking products that could help you, but be careful with these. The products they refer are their way of getting paid. That’s how the app is free for members (if an app is free, you are the product). If you want to use the information that Credit Karma gives you to improve your credit and FICO score, check out these tips.
History Matters Too
It is equally important, or even more important, to show good history on your report. When you establish a pattern of paying what you owe, financial institutions take this into consideration regardless of your score. Your credit score drives your interest rate, but your history will ultimately determine if a financial institution will approve you for a loan. If your report is clean and accurate, your score will rise as you pay your credit accounts on time.
You can check your credit report for free through AnnualCreditReport every 12 months for all three credit reporting agencies: Transunion, Equifax, and Experian.
Saundra Davis is a nationally recognized financial coach and educator. Her experience in the U.S. Navy, where she made every money mistake possible, and her 20 years serving community-based organizations led her to the reality that the best way to help people find a path out of poverty is to help them become their own financial expert.