Why Focusing On Your Credit Score Isn’t Always Helpful

credit score

It shouldn’t be a mystery that your credit score is an important number. It is used in a variety of ways these days from auto loans, mortgages, employment, rental applications, and more. If you think your credit score is only used when you want to get a loan, think again.

One issue I have noticed over the years the number of people who fixate on their credit scores. ‘How do I get it higher?’ and ‘How can I raise my credit score quickly?’ are the types of things people are asking. It is good to ask how to raise your score as a higher score provides you with more opportunities. The main issue is a credit score shouldn’t be your focus. You need to focus on your overall credit health.

So Many Scores


After I put up my Credit Sesame review, people were emailing me about how they don’t get a real score from Credit Sesame. What is a real score? Most people say FICO is your real credit score, but unfortunately, that is not correct either. FICO is just one score and there are multiple FICO scores for each person. Each credit bureau has their own FICO scoring model along with their own proprietary credit score. This leads to much confusion when you go to a lending institution or just check your credit.

While there are a lot of scores to keep up with, it shouldn’t matter. Your credit score is just a number that gives lenders and other inquirers a measurement of your overall credit health.

Switch Your Focus


I did my fair share of Google searches looking for ways to increase my credit score when I was in debt. Article after article provided tips on how to increase your score. The problem with such tips is they just focus on you quickly increasing your score. They don’t focus on the underlying problem. Why is your credit score low? Do you have a bankruptcy on file? Do you pay your bills late? Why? These are the questions you need to ask.

Just as people want to get rich quick, they also want to raise their score quickly. I have to say this just doesn’t work. You don’t get rich quickly and you don’t raise your score quickly. While you can add a few points to your score by doing a few little things, it won’t make much of a difference. If you want to raise your credit score to a high level, you need to focus on your money management.

Great credit scores come from using credit wisely, making payments on time, keeping old credit accounts active and in good standing, not maxing out your balances, and more. Each of these aspects are really just giving a snippet of the overall picture of how well you keep up with your money. Are you overextending yourself financially? If so, then your credit score might suffer.

Credit Scores are Just Indicators


The one thing you need to remember about your credit score is it is just an indicator. That is all. In order to increase your credit score, you need to focus on the underlying problem. Once you get a handle on your finances and start making changes, then you will see positive changes in your credit score. Most importantly, you will see your finances improve and hopefully your stress level decrease.

If your low credit score is pushing you to make a change, then great. If you are just looking for a higher credit score so you can get a better loan, then take a step back and get a hold of your financial missteps and put yourself back on the right track.


Do you use your credit score as motivation to fix your finances or are you looking to raise your score as fast as possible? How often do you check your credit score? What do you do to maintain or improve your overall financial health?



Photo courtesy of: LendingMemo

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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  • Thanks for advocating such an excellent point! I especially liked this post because my dad worked for Fair Issac Company for about 40 years and personally knew Mr. Fair and Mr. Isaac. Growing up, I never could understand exactly what he did as a “credit bureau analyst” (still not exactly sure!) but was happy when I got older could make him proud with a 820 credit score. :-) To be honest, all I did was always pay off my credit card on time.

  • Lauren says:

    I always like to see my credit score go up, but I don’t obsess about it. Checking the accuracy of my credit report is more important to me. I think the score is just a nice way to gauge how you’re doing, and there’s usually always room for improvement!

  • I keep tabs on my credit score just to make sure there are no surprises if and when I apply for a loan or a lease or anything else.

  • Right on here. I agree with you. I learned this from Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey. Your credit score has it’s purpose, but it is not the end all be all, and it may not even be what you should focus on. Getting out of debt and saving money is what’s important. Your credit score is a reflection of your habits, but it shouldn’t serve as your main focus.

  • We are debt-free aside from a small mortgage so I worry very little about our score. I do check our credit to make sure that nothing scammy is going on, and I try to keep our scores as high as possible so we qualify for the best credit card reward offers.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Checking your credit score and report are two different activities. While sites like Credit Sesame can give you your report or activity, it doesn’t provide your FICO score. You should always pay attention to your credit report.

  • Kim says:

    As a type A, I always want to have a higher credit score, but I honestly don’t check it much anymore. I agree that many things focus too much on credit score. Maybe you had something negative that lowered your score, but you learned from it and won’t ever miss a payment again. When we owed a truckload of money, we still had great credit scores, but I think it was stupid for people to keep giving us more credit. It’s wrong to judge just on a number.

  • Always check for the accuracy of the information in your credit file. I have found errors on more than one occasion. Problem is, getting the credit agency’s to correct mistake is nearly impossible.

  • Great post, Grayson. People always want a quick fix to their credit score, which I understand, but you’re right that they also need to address the underlying cause of their low score. Otherwise, quick fix or not, they score will likely go back down again if they don’t learn proper money management. I don’t obsess over my credit score but just check it periodically to make sure it’s where I expect it to be. I pay closer attention to my credit report.

  • I’ve always had a good credit score even though I was crappy in other areas of my finances, so I’ve never been worried. I think it depends what you need to do. If you need to take out a loan, then it’s really bad to have a crappy credit score, and I don’t know how to improve it. I was surprised how closing a few newish cc’s did not affect my credit score at all. Good to know!

  • Amy says:

    I’m mainly just focused on paying down debt now, rather than my credit score. However, I’ve noticed that I can easily see it (or one version of it) every time I log into my Discover account online. So I have a sense of how it’s doing, but don’t follow it closely.

  • Ben Luthi says:

    I’ve found that it’s really not that difficult to have a high score. Just be a responsible human being and pay your bills on time and don’t overdo it.

  • I couldn’t agree more with your theme. People focusing on their score seem most concerned with how the equations work. They want to manipulate the outcome of something they can’t control.

    The scores are merely a reflection of the choices people make, which is something each person can control.

  • I rarely check my score – unless I am looking to buy a house or finance something large. I know my score right now is good and as long as I am smart with my credit usage, it will remain high/increase. I do check my credit report 3 times a year though. That way I can stop my score from dropping from theft or mistakes.

  • Credit scores have become popular because the companies that create credit scores make tons of money off selling them and so promote them heavily.

    My suggestion has always been to search “understanding your fico score”, download the PDF that’s linked in the first search result, and follow the “tips” the begin on page 8. Do that and your credit score will be as good as it can be, whatever it is.

  • I keep tabs of my score through credit sesame and credit karma. It appears credit sesame is a bit better on letting me know of changes to my credit via email. Other than that, I just pay my bills on time and use credit cards responsibly. Last I checked my score was 808.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Yeah, those sites are nice, but they don’t really offer a real credit score. Those are different calculations which most banks don’t use. They are good to see ballpark though.

  • Most mortgage lenders and large financial institutions want to know your credit risk level when applying for credit. We can improve our credit health by understanding our credit score. And most people refer to their credit scores as FICO score.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Yet your credit score is a reflection of your financial health. If you take care of that, your score falls in line. You don’t need to analyze your score to have a high one, you need to analyze your finances and see what you are doing wrong.

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