Why your friend has a better credit score than you

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Credit cards are displayed in Haverhill, Massachusetts.  Learning that your friend has better credit than you can be a bummer, but there are ways to improve your credit.

Tia Chambers first checked her credit score at age 23, after seeing a friend check his, she says.

“I said, ‘Oh boy, my credit score must be better than that,’” says Chambers, now 31, who blogged about her experience on her website, Financially Fit and Fabulous. To her surprise, it was even worse. “My credit score was a lot lower than I expected. It was actually mid to high 500.”

She felt deflated. “I thought, ‘Man, I pay my bills on time. Why isn’t my credit score higher?’”

If you’re new to credit, you might be wondering the same thing. Why does your credit score pale in comparison to your friend’s, even though you checked it on the same website using the same scoring model?

“For someone with a low credit score, there’s always — and I mean always — a logical explanation for why that score is the way it is,” said John Ulzheimer, a credit expert who previously worked for credit-scoring firm FICO and credit bureau Equifax. “It’s never random. It’s never anecdotal.”

These factors may work in your friend’s favor more than yours:

CONSISTENT REGISTRATION OF TIME PAYMENTS

You and your friend may have a habit of paying bills on time, but even one forgotten payment can bring a credit score down.

That’s part of what happened to Chambers in Indianapolis. When she checked her credit report, she discovered a forgotten unpaid medical bill in collections. She paid it, negotiated to remove the collection account from her credit report, and then noticed a slight increase in her score, she says.

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