Q. Does my age affect my credit score?

A. Technically, the answer is no because your age is not factored into your credit score. However, FICO does look at the age of your credit history when tabulating your score, so your age could indirectly affect it. 

As we’ve previously reported, FICO currently tabulates credit scores using five criteria: past payment practices, your debt to credit ratio, the number of accounts you’ve opened, the type of accounts opened, and the length of your credit history.

John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for SmartCredit.com, explains that this last component, commonly referred to as “time in file,” is determined by both the age of your oldest credit line on the books and the average age of all the accounts on your credit report. 

This determines 15% of your total score, but it isn’t influenced by how well or poorly you managed your credit. It’s longevity that matters, so the longer your credit history, the higher the score will be.

In other words, reaching retirement age means nothing to FICO, but doing so after you’ve opened (and maintained) a credit account since the age of 21 does. That’s why long-term consumers are likely to score higher than those just starting out in the credit world, and explains why FICO told MainStreet last year that those with a perfect credit score tend to be older.

Keep in mind that this part of your score is influenced by the age of your oldest open account, so you may want to hang onto that store card you opened on your 21st birthday because closing it could negatively affect your credit history. 

Want to know what affects your credit score? Email your questions to MainStreet at editors@mainstreet.com.

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