Experian says I have a thin file.

I have owned two homes, had 2 car loans, and paying a car loan now.

Searching the web: a thin file is generally found in younger people without a credit history.

I have two credit cards. I use only one CC because I like paying one bill and getting some reward points. I have had this CC for 10 years, at least. Experian conveniently has a link to CC offers. I have 725 score.

Would a creditor actually see a thin file as a negative for me?

  • 2
    Having a thin file doesn't affect your score much. I had mine over 840 at one point with a thin file (3 accounts).
    – rtaft
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 14:52
  • Related: How to recover from credit score hit from paying off loan?
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 19:57
  • 3
    I think what's going on here is data aging off. I have owned two houses and had one car loan--but my credit report has no installment loans at all. The problem is all of the loans were paid off more than 7 years ago. Despite that we have credit ratings of around 800. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 3:02
  • 3
    As a non us citizen: What is a "thin file"?
    – some_coder
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 8:26
  • 2
    @some_coder - a "thin file" comes from the days of actual paper documents - often all the relevant history on an applicant would be stored in a manila folder, or "file" (like you see in crime shows). Having a thin file implies that there is not much history in the file, so when deciding whether or not to give you a loan, they don't have much to go on. Hence why it is often also associated with younger people without much of a credit history.
    – IronEagle
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 15:32

4 Answers 4


The FICO website suggests that credit mix determines 10% of your score. And while they don't offer much more detail, Credit Karma shows this on my account:

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Credit scores are important if (and mostly if) you plan to borrow money.

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This image is from FICO, and shows the possible cost of a low score. On a $200K loan, 30 year term, the difference is about $24/month or $8344 over the life of the loan. The one point Pete has made over the years is that if you are at 770, you are already in the top range. Why give any further thought to this game? He is 100% right. But, if one is in that 620-639 range, getting the score two levels higher is a $110/mo savings, which can multiply up to a nice addition to one's retirement.

To answer you, OP (original poster), unless you are looking to buy your next home and need a large mortgage, you are all set. To any future reader here, the value of tracking one's score only pays off when looking to make a purchase on credit such as a house or car. (A really bad score can impact future employment, but that's a different discussion).

On a personal note, when I went to renew my HELOC, the application was all over the phone, with docs sent via email. When the rep asked for permission to pull our scores, I agreed, and soon heard her say "Oh, wow. I've never seen that before." My wife and I both had 850. Still, 775 would have gotten us the loan, just as fast. If I weren't a member here or didn't have a blog (on hold for now) focusing on personal finance, I'd not have bothered with the years long experimenting and tinkering to game the scores.

  • The total accounts thing is crazy... 21+ accounts to get the maximum score from that? I would have to go out of my way to even have 6 and get out of the bottom bucket. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 13:32
  • Let me be clear. I'm not saying I like the system, that I agree with it, only that I've researched it enough to feel I understand it. You can also see, I don't have 21 active accounts. Refinanced mortgages and old HELOC still appear, as do cancelled cards from long ago. Good to monitor credit for fraud, but most of the time, the only issue is when applying for a new acct, esp a mortgage. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 14:27
  • "But, if one is in that 620-639 range, getting the score two levels higher is a $110/mo savings" - even aside from possible retirement benefits, freeing-up >$1300 a year could also mean retiring the mortgage substantially sooner (if you toss extra onto the principle each month (like I do))
    – warren
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 16:27

Would a creditor actually see a thin file as a negative for me?


You have owned two homes, did they have a mortgage?

You had two car loans, and one now. You have two CCs. Does it seem like you have trouble getting credit?

Most likely it is a marketing ploy to get you to borrow more, or more from one of their favored offers.

  • Agreed on the marketing ploy. If you want to make your file "thicker", get an appliance on 0% APR credit from an electronics store, and pay it back monthly. Maybe do this a few times, or from different vendors. Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 7:54
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    @spikey_richie why would someone do such a thing? There is no reason other than giving into their marketing. There is no reason to be a slave to the CC companies/banks/credit agencies.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 10:55
  • “why would someone do such a thing? There is no reason other than giving into their marketing” — you might also be able to keep more money in a higher-interest savings account for longer, thus being better off in the long-run than if you'd bought the thing outright instead of on a 0% deal. It's pennies on the dollar (at best), but it's kind of just the flip-side of savings interest. Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 13:54
  • 5
    @PeteB. If you have the ability to pay it off at any point, you're not a slave. You're just agreeing to play their silly game and letting them think they're winning. If it's 0% APR. Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 16:58
  • @user253751 True, but what percentage of the population is that? Probably less than 10% of those with CC debt. A lot of us with the ability to leverage low rates won't do so for less than 20% difference between the borrowing and earning rate. Anything less just is not worth it.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 19:01

Anything under 5 accounts is technically considered a thin credit file.

It's not ideal but its a relatively minor consideration compared to payment history, debt utilization,etc.

  • Why is it not ideal? You are falling for their marketing ploys. His score is plenty high enough.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 10:53
  • 3
    @PeteB. OP would likely get a lower interest rate if they bumped their credit score up to 740-760 or so, which makes 725 both "not ideal" as described and fairly easy to improve.
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 11:53
  • 12
    @PeteB. Literally shopping for a mortgage at this very moment, and 740 is very much a cut-off for the best rate. For one bank I was talking to, being on the right side of that is worth about 0.25 percentage points (as in, I was on the wrong side, paid off a credit card balance to get on the right side of it, and saw my rate drop by that much). Nonsense that the balance on my credit card—which I pay off monthly—affected my credit score that much when I clearly had ample funds to pay it off and was enrolled in auto-pay to do so, but this was the effect.
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 14:13
  • 1
    5 currently open accounts, payed off loans and closed CCs don't count. My issue with with this is I've had CC's close my account for not using it...it used to be hard to keep 5 CCs active.
    – rtaft
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 14:34
  • 1
    @PeteB. - I don't know where you live, but there is a MASSIVE difference in a 680 vs 725 vs >750 credit score on mortgage rates (as KRyan noted). I ended-up with a 0.5% better refinance rate by being north of 750 earlier this year than if I'd had a 749.
    – warren
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 16:25

Sometimes, some accounts are only reported to one agency. In my case they view my cc, cars loan but not my mortgage because it's not reported to them.

So to answer your question, chances are it will not hurt you because frequently lenders check all agencies

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