In several recent client meetings, graduates of the 3rd Decade program have shared their credit scores with me and they’ve been impressive. At the same time, I bet if you’d asked these individuals what their score was prior to our class that covered credit scores, they wouldn’t have known it. Now they have bragging rights.

On one hand, talking about credit scores is a bit of a snooze. On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article titled 9 Myths About Credit Scores that I think is worth sharing. In fact, I’ve had several clients who’ve kept a running balance on their credit card because they thought it helped improve their credit score – that would be Myth #3.

But first, credit scores aren’t just about getting the most favorable terms on auto, mortgage and other types of loans. They also determine the interest rate on your credit cards, the premium for your auto and homeowners insurance, whether you’re approved for an apartment lease, whether you’re required to put a deposit down for utility hookups and whether the job offer goes to you or the other guy with a higher score. They are your financial report card and we like to see scores above 740.

I’ll leave the details to the article – below are the myths:

• Myth #1: Checking my credit score hurts my credit score – this is the difference between soft and hard inquiries
• Myth #2: If I pay my bills on time, that’s all I need to worry about – this is the importance of credit utilization
• Myth #3: Carrying a balance helps boost my credit score – no, it just means more income for the credit card company
• Myth #4: Closing an old credit card with a high interest rate will help my score – this is about the importance of credit history
• Myth #5: Opening a new retail credit card is good for your score – maybe but probably not the best choice
• Myth #6: It hurts my credit score to comparison shop for a mortgage, auto or student loan – no, not if you do it strategically
• Myth #7: The older my unpaid debt, the more it hurts me – actually, the opposite is true
• Myth #8: Selecting ‘credit’ while using your debit card for a purchase is good for your credit score – I didn’t know that was a thing
• Myth #9: Credit reports are accurate – let’s just say there are humans involved

Still interested? FICOscore.com has more information than you’d ever want to know and, heads up, there’s a new score in town, the VantageScore.

I’ll close with saying that one of the most important things you can do to protect your credit is to check your credit reports regularly. By Federal law, you can get a copy of your credit report for free from each of the three reporting agencies once a year. Make a note on your calendar to log into www.annualcreditreport.com and retrieve one report every four months.