How Come My Credit Scores Are Lower Than My Wife’s

In the recent credit report that my mortgage pulled for us, my scores (around 735) are consistent lower than those of my wife’s (around 780).  Both of us have scores way well above 700, which entitles one to the lowest interest possible from most lenders, so the difference is more academic than practical.

But digging into the reasons given by the three bureaus highlights one major differentiating factors.

These are the key factors that impacted my credit scores, as spelled out in the report:

  1. Too many inquiries last 12 months (Transunion, Experian)
  2. Proportion of loan balances to loan amounts is too high (Transunion, Equifax, Experian)
  3. Length of time revolving accounts have been established (Transunion)
  4. Too many accounts with balances (Experian)
  5. Time since delinquency is too recent or unknown (Equifax)
  6. Level of delinquency on accounts (Equifax)
  7. Number of accounts with delinquency (Experian)
  8. Time since most recent account opening is too short (Transunion, Equifax)

And these are the key factors that impacted my wife’s

  1. Too many inquiries last 12 months (Experian)
  2. Proportion of loan balances to loan amounts is too high (Transunion, Equifax, Experian)
  3. Too many accounts recently opened (Transunion, Experian)
  4. Too many accounts with balances (Experian, Equifax))
  5. Lack of recent installment loan information (Transunion)

As one could tell, my wife has got a far shorter list than me. Factors 1-4 are essentially the same for two of us.  The real difference is really item 5-7 for me and my wife does not have them.

Item 5-7 bears some explanation, for my reputation is on the line.

Delinquency? Delinquency for me? I never knowingly missed a payment in my life and I am proud of the fact.

What humbled me here are the things I did not know and beyond my control.

All three items all stemmed from a missed payment of $60 to Kohl’s Card in the middle of 2012. The card has a credit limit of mere $1,000. I am the only person shop is the discount clothing store so no card is issued under my wife’s name.

The statement got lost in the mail (which happens, as we sometimes receive credit card statements for our neighbors because of USPS’s mistake), and I did not know the existence of the bill and naturally did not pay it. To the credit of Kohl’s, it had an automatic voice machine call me a number of times since they did not receive any payment on due date. I habitually hang up on those phones calls, thinking it was some kind of telemarketing. I did not find out about it until I received the bill for the next months.  I called back and explained the situation. Kohl’s was kind enough to waiver any late fees and interest, but it found its duty to report to the credit bureau.

And it has been hurting my credit score ever since.

Lesson learned: pay your bill on time no matter how small it is, otherwise it will make you less creditworthy than your spouse.

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