Home > Credit Score > Help! My Credit Score Disappeared

Comments 0 Comments

Have you lived overseas for a few years? Gotten married and gotten by on your spouse’s credit accounts? Have you cut up your credit cards and just paid with cash or your debit card for a good number of years?

If this is you, your credit record may have gone “poof!” and your credit score may have disappeared. Here’s how.

When Traveling & Living Abroad

If you made the leap to living in a foreign country for several years and closed out all of your U.S.-based credit cards and loans before you left, your credit history could be fading away. That’s because your U.S. credit reports only report U.S.-based credit.

To keep your credit reports active, maintain an active American credit card account that you use for a couple of routine purchases each month. Choose a card without foreign transaction fees and pay balances in full to build credit without acquiring debt.

Living on Your Spouse’s Credit

Falling in love and getting married is great — but make sure your finances are covered for the long haul, too. Giving up your own credit accounts and living off your spouse’s credit (including not having any joint credit accounts) is a sure way to get your credit score to disappear over time. Think of it this way: If something should happen to your spouse and you have no credit history in your name, you will have a tough time qualifying for a credit card, let alone getting a mortgage or car loan on your own. So keep at least one credit card account in your own name and keep it active, paying the balance in full. Just a couple of small purchases each month will do the trick.

Cold Turkey on Credit

Did you need to cut up all your credit cards as part of a debt management program? Did you move and decide to live a pay-as-you-go life for awhile, using cash and debit cards for all your expenses? If you’ve gone cold turkey on credit, your credit scores will still be active for a while, but if you’re doing it for years at a time, you could lose your credit scores.

Simplifying your finances is great, but if you need a home loan or auto loan at some point in the future, you will want to find a way to keep your credit intact as well. Having no credit score or an especially poor credit score can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in your lifetime (you can crunch your own lifetime cost of debt here).

How to Get & Keep Credit

It can be impossible to qualify for credit on your own if you don’t have an active credit file.

So let’s look at the lifespan of your credit history. Positive credit information stays on your credit record for 10 years. Negative information sticks around for seven (though some negative information can stay on your report longer). So if you haven’t had an active account for 10 years or longer, you may have to start over with your credit.

The good news is if you had a healthy credit record once, there’s no reason you can’t have one again. It’ll just take some time – and a little effort – to get there.

A secured credit card is a great tool to start rebuilding your credit. You’ll need enough cash to put on deposit to secure yourself a small credit line and then you are ready to get to work on re-setting your credit. Once you’ve established a long enough history of on-time payments on your secured card, you can “graduate” to a regular credit card — check with your issuer for guidelines.

Once you’ve started using credit again, you will need the following to have a credit score, according FICO:

  • At least one account that has been open for six months or longer
  • At least one undisputed account that has been reported to a credit reporting agency in the past six months

Not sure where your credit stands? You can get a free copy of your credit reports once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also see two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com every month.

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

Image: Franck-Boston

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team