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Mark Cappel
UpdatedJan 22, 2010

Should I close my open accounts or will that hurt my Credit Score and Credit Rating?

I noticed there are accounts on my credit report that say open but they are closed. Should I contact them to close those accounts or should I leave them open.

Thanks for your question about keeping accounts open or to close them. The quick answer is it depends. If they are accounts that do not cost you any money (no annual fees, etc) and that have a long history and a good or perfect payment history -- then you should probably leave them open, as it could help your credit score. If they cost you money, or if they have missed payments or negative listings (like charge-off, collections, etc) then you should probably close them.

Accounts that should help you build your credit rating by reporting positive payment information to the credit bureaus include auto loans, home mortgages, credit cards, and personal loans and the longer you have had them open the better it is for your credit score.

As you are inquiring about credit report accounts let me give you some information on how a credit score is calculated. Your credit rating is calculated based on several variables, including:

1) Payment history, which counts for approximately 35% of your score, is the most heavily weighted factor used in calculating your credit score. Consistently paying your bills on time has a positive influence on your score, while late or missed payments will hurt you in this area. If you have delinquent payments, the older the delinquency the less the negative impact on your score will be. Collection accounts and bankruptcy filings are also taken into consideration when analyzing your payment history.

2) Total debt and total available credit, which counts for about 30%. This section looks at how much debt you have compared to the total available credit on your accounts. If all of your accounts are maxed out, you will be considered a poor credit risk, because it appears that you are struggling to pay off the debt you have already incurred. If your account balances are relatively low compared to your available credit, this part of the risk analysis should help your overall credit score. The score calculation also looks at these two factors independently. Having too much available credit, whether you have used it or not, could hurt your credit score, as statistical studies have shown that people with excessive amounts of available credit are a higher credit risk. Unfortunately, the bureaus do not define exactly what they consider excessive, so best tip is to use credit conservatively and to keep your debt to credit limit ratio low.

3) Length of positive credit history, which counts for about 15%. The longer you maintain accounts in good standing, the better your score will be. This shows that you are able to make a long-term commitment to a creditor and are consistently responsible about making your payments. If you have accounts with long history (5 or more years) and no missed payments, you should keep these open and paid off.

4) Mix of types of credit, which counts for approximately 10%. Having several different types of credit, such a credit cards, consumer loans, and secured debt, will have a positive influence on your credit score. Having too much of one type of credit can have a negative impact.

5) The number of new credit applications you have recently completed, which accounts for about 10% of your score. Applying for too much new credit in a short time period makes indicates that you could be credit risk, as you may be desperately trying to keep your head above water. The models make an exception for people who are shopping around for a loan, so if you are simply applying to see who can give you the best rate on a new loan, you need not worry too much about damaging your credit score.

While you cannot realistically calculate your own credit score, you can review your credit report for on the five factors I named above to get an idea of whether the accounts listed on your credit report are hurting or helping your credit score. You can then take action to improve any potential problems, such as paying down your balances or paying off collection items.

Also, factors such as age, sex, income, and length of employment, have no direct affect on your credit score, and are not considered when the bureaus calculate your score. Keep in mind that for most lenders, your credit score is only one aspect, albeit an important one, of your overall “credit worthiness,” meaning the creditor’s view of your ability to repay a loan. Your income, for example, is not considered in the calculation of your FICO score, but most lenders will ask you what you earn to analyze your ability to repay the loan. Even if you have an 800 FICO score, if your income is only $10,000/year, a lender will probably not loan you a large sum of money, because despite your past credit habits as measured by your FICO score, the lender can see that you probably cannot afford to repay the loan.

If you would like to learn more about credit reports, credit scoring, and what it means to you, I encourage you to explore the wealth of material offered by at Credit Information. You may also consider disputing the errors on your credit report. To learn more about this option, see Credit Report Errors .

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn. Save.




BBill, Jan, 2010
The word "discharged" gives me pause because I do not know what you mean. Apparently, the debt in question appeared in 2004 as a derogatory mark on your credit report. It would be helpful to know what the date of first delinquency was. If the date of first delinquency was in 2004, that entry can remain on your credit report until 2011. See Seven Years of History and Credit Reports and Credit Report Errors for clarification.
ddavid, Jan, 2010
Can a discharged bill for 92.00 appear on your credit report in 2004, and then re appear in 2009 as still being owed by a different collection agency?We did not have credit monitoring in 2004 and did not know we owed this bill