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Checking Your Credit Score

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feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If the bills are coming in and you’re thinking of applying for more credit cards to transfer, there could be long term consequences.

When you apply for credit, lenders will base their decision on whether to give it to you on your credit rating or what’s called a FICO score.

FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation – Who Knew? – which is the company that created the industry standard credit scores used by almost all lenders. Your score is between 300 and 850. Most Americans’ score is between 500 and 799. When you apply for credit, you authorize those lenders to ask or “inquire” for a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau.

Did you know that when those inquiries are made, they can lower your overall FICO score? The impact from applying for credit will vary from person to person. For most people, one additional credit inquiry will take less than five points off their FICO score. Inquiries can have a greater impact if you have few accounts or a short credit history. Large numbers of inquiries also mean greater risk.

No need to Monday morning quarterback the purchases you shouldn’t have made now, but you may want to think about paying off the credit cards you already have with a plan rather than by applying for new credit.