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Does What You Buy Affect Your Credit Score?

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If the old adage, “you are what you eat,” applied to our finances, would specific purchases affect our credit scores?

Given the information those numbers contain, from how much debt we carry to whether we make on-time payments, it’s not hard to imagine. After all, credit bureaus can see how often you apply for store credit cards. Why wouldn’t they factor in other shopping behaviors?

The fact is, credit issuers don’t look at individual purchases. Your credit report isn’t an exhaustive summary of your financial history, so it doesn’t provide itemized details on how your credit lines are being used. For instance, if you take out a $1,000 personal loan to pay Fido’s vet bill or put the money toward consolidating credit card debt, the credit bureaus will be none the wiser. What really matters is that you use the credit responsibly.

The same applies to your credit card spending — the individual purchases you make won’t appear on your credit reports, but how much you spend (in relation to how much credit you have) and your payment history will factor into your scores.

“Neither the type of store you frequent nor what you buy has any influence on credit scores from FICO or VantageScore,” Barry Paperno, a credit scoring expert with more than 25 years in the credit industry, confirmed by email.

“Where someone shops for goods or services is not part of the calculation of a consumer’s VantageScore credit score,” Jeff Richardson, a spokesperson for VantageScore, added in an email. “It’s pretty cut and dry.”

What Affects Your Scores

While your shopping habits won’t affect your credit scores, there are other factors that will. These include your payment history; the total amount of debt that you currently owe; the length of your credit history, or how long your accounts have been open; types of credit, meaning your mix of accounts, such as credit cards, student loans and car loans; and searches for new lines of credit, also known as hard inquiries.

If reading this is a sore reminder that your spending is out of control, it’s a good idea to take a look at your credit scores to see where you stand. (You can view two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.) If your score is in need of improvement, you may be able to fix your credit by disputing errors on your credit report, identifying your other credit score killers and creating a game plan to address them.

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