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I'm part of a credit union. I thought I had set up monthly automatic payments from my checking account to my credit card for the monthly fee ($25 each month). Through some way or another, that didn't happen, and I became late on my payments. The credit union closed the credit card account after 3 months (costly lesson). The following day I received my new credit card (chipped), and tried to activate it. This is the point where I found out about the closure.

I went to see the impact on my credit score via credit karma, and some of the data doesn't make sense. It may just be my misunderstanding of how things work/I haven't waited long enough for it to become accurate.

The first discrepancy I noticed is that I no longer have a credit history. My credit card utilization reports no information available, as well as my age of credit history. I am able to see my utilization history (0%), but instead of it being reported as Excellent (0-9%) it's simply unavailable.

The second discrepancy I noticed is that my total accounts increased by 1. Both of them are the credit card account. On one of them (created in Feb 2014) it is reported as lost/stolen, with a Balance of 0, with a current history (no missed payments), monthly payment of 0, and the closed date of April 11, 2016. This account did not exist before the closure.

The other account (which states it was created in June 2014), is reported as closed by credit grantor, with a balance of $958, with 1 missed payment of 30-59 days late, monthly payment of $25, and a closed date of May 10, 2016.

I never had two credit cards, though I did have to get a replacement (for the chip), but that was much more recently. When I went to the online banking application, it only ever reported one credit account.

I'm not blaming the credit union for closing my account, that was all my bad. I should have been more vigilant to make sure things actually were the way I wanted.

Now to my questions.

TL;DR

  1. Is the data inaccurate, simply because I haven't given enough time for the agencies to talk to each other and figure out which is correct?
  2. Because (as far as I can tell) some of the data is not really accurate (none of the dates are right, opening dates are wrong), should I file a dispute with both Equifax and Transunion?
  3. Should I get the actual credit union's data for the credit card first?
  4. What impact does having a credit utilization history, but no information available about that history have?
  5. What impact does having a credit utilization history, but no age of credit history have?
  6. I was not very good at managing my money earlier. I have since remedied my habits. However, because of my behavior, my credit score is very poor (560s). Would getting another credit card, not using the credit card, and making the monthly payments help my to rebuild my credit history? Would it have any significant impact?
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First thing to do...

I would suggest that you retrieve a copy of your credit report directly from the credit reporting agencies. CreditKarma is a decent place for credit monitoring and stuff, but it isn't clear in this case whether there is an issue on your report or if it's a website glitch. Since you are looking at material events on your credit profile, it's nice to be 100% sure.

Usually credit reports cost money but you are entitled to a free report from each agency every year per The Fair Credit Reporting Act. Just google "annual credit report" and the first non-ad link should take you to the reports.

Since your account was closed in May, the information should have been fully reflected in the credit reports. Once you get through the reports, you should follow up with the agencies and the credit union if you see any discrepancy.

Repairing credit

The things you listed would definitely help, although when you manage to get a card, do use it (and make on time payments) as creditors usually prefer low utilization to zero utilization.

Another trick you can try is to ask someone to add you as an authorized user of his/her credit card. That way the account would show up in your credit report and you can get a free ride on all the utilization and on time payment history. (Lenders can tell whether it's your account or someone else's but a lot of the times they don't really care).

  • Would it then be a potential negative to pay off the entire balance of the credit card every month before it is reported? Would, at that point, it look like 0% utilization? – Zymus Jun 27 '16 at 22:23
  • If you pay off an account balance before the creditor runs a billing cycle then the report to the credit bureau will show your utilization as zero, which is not a bad thing. You want to keep your total credit utilization below 20% (some say the number is more like 30%, but I like to be conservative about it). That doesn't mean your bureau file won't show your high credit balance (Discover Card does this, reporting your highest utilized balance), but that's different than utilization percentage. Hope this helps! – Daniel Anderson Jun 29 '16 at 1:28
  • Generally you want to show creditors that you do utilize (but not abuse) the credit they offer you (otherwise why would you apply for it right?), which is why a relatively low utilization rate is good. What @DanielAnderson mentioned about high balance is true but it gets tricky. In certain scenarios creditors report your high balance as your credit limit (I forgot which card issuer does this) which makes a large high balance desirable. But these technicalities don't change the principle here. – xiaomy Jun 29 '16 at 1:51
  • Good point, Max. And there's no set rule of thumb for which balance creditors use, although the majority use the balance at the time of bill cycling. Capital One shows what I owe at time of cycle, not my high balance during the month, so I'll make purchases on it then pay it down (but not necessarily off) before billing runs. I avoid much interest that way too. That's something to ask the creditor before opening an account so you're clear on the rules. They love to say that the account disclosure will make it all clear...but no, it really doesn't! (chuckle) – Daniel Anderson Jun 29 '16 at 2:17

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