I was interviewing a mortgage broker named Debi Merchain when she told me something shocking. To get the best credit score I need to have three active credit cards. What??? I thought I just had to pay my bills on time!
“A lot of people make the mistake of just using one credit card,” Debi said. Ideally you would make regular, on time payments on three credit cards, a mortgage and a car loan. The three main credit card reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, like consumers who use multiple types of credit responsibly, Debi said.
I’m not in a position to buy a home so I’m not going to consider that option. But should I buy a new car and get another credit card? I paid for my used car in cash and have two credit cards.
That could help, she said. But don’t buy a car or get a mortgage just to bump up your score a few points. Because my housing and car needs are met, Debi recommended I get a third credit card and use it once a month or so. Just enough to show it is active and to establish a record of paying the bill on time.
Debi also said that the criteria the credit agencies use to determine your score changes. So three credit cards plus a car loan and mortgage won’t be the top standard forever.
If you want to know what your credit report looks like, once a year you can get a one from AnnualCreditReport.com.