Why is My Mother’s Credit Score Low Despite Perfect Payment History?

Question from Bj: My mother has years of perfect credit history. I just pulled her equifax report. She had 100% on time payment history. 0% credit card usage. 12 total accounts, and a single collection account from 2 years ago for a medical bill. However, her score is 600. How is this possible? She went to buy a car and they said her score was too low. She has $0 bills, and perfect payment history.


Credit scores can sometimes be confusing, especially when they seem to contradict a person’s financial habits. In your mother’s case, despite her perfect payment history and zero credit card usage, her score is surprisingly low. This could be due to a few factors.

Impact of Collection Accounts

Firstly, the presence of a collection account on your mother’s credit report could significantly impact her score. According to Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, collection accounts can stay on a credit report for up to seven years and can lower a credit score by as much as 100 points. Even if the collection account is for a small amount, it can still have a significant impact.

Length of Credit History

Secondly, the length of your mother’s credit history could be affecting her score. While she may have a perfect payment history, if most of her 12 accounts are relatively new, this could lower her score. FICO, the most widely used credit scoring model, considers the length of credit history as 15% of a person’s total score.

Types of Credit Used

Thirdly, the types of credit your mother has used could also be a factor. Credit scoring models like to see a mix of different types of credit, such as credit cards, installment loans, and mortgages. If your mother’s credit history is primarily made up of one type of credit, this could be lowering her score.

Recent Credit Inquiries

Lastly, if your mother has recently applied for new credit, this could temporarily lower her score. Each time a lender makes a hard inquiry into your credit, it can lower your score by a few points. If your mother has made multiple credit applications recently, this could explain the lower score.

To improve her credit score, your mother could consider the following steps:

  • Pay off the collection account: This could potentially increase her score, especially if the collection agency agrees to remove the account from her credit report.
  • Keep old accounts open: This can help lengthen her credit history.
  • Consider diversifying her credit: If possible, she could consider taking out a different type of credit, such as an installment loan, to show she can manage different types of credit.
  • Limit hard inquiries: She should only apply for new credit when necessary to avoid lowering her score.

Remember, improving a credit score takes time, but with consistent effort, it is possible to increase it.

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