What Is in a Credit Score?

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What Is in a Credit Score?

A credit score is a three-digit number used by financial institutions to evaluate your creditworthiness, or the likelihood that you'll pay back your debts. When a consumer applies for a credit card, mortgage, student loan, auto loan or other line of credit, a lender usually pulls a credit score to help the lender decide whether or not to extend credit.

There are six key credit-influencing factors that are commonly used in calculating your credit score, although the actual credit score number may differ depending on which credit bureau (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) pulls the information and what kind of credit score model is used.

Here are the six main factors and how they can impact your credit score.

1. Open Credit Card Utilization

Your open credit card utilization rate is your available credit compared with how much you're using at any given time. It can be calculated by taking your total open credit card balances and dividing that number by your total open credit card limits. The resulting percentage is your utilization rate.

It's important to note that your credit card utilization rate is not calculated by looking at the balance you carry over from month to month. It is calculated using the balance you have at the time that your credit card issuer reports to the credit bureau. Therefore, it is not necessary to carry over a balance from month to month. You could maintain a healthy credit card utilization through regular credit card use and paying off your balance every month.

2. Percent of On-Time Payments

Your percentage of on-time payments represents how often you make payments on time. It's often a heavily weighted factor in calculating a credit score, so just one or two late payments could significantly affect your score.

Paying bills on time is one of the best ways to keep up good credit health; it shows lenders and creditors that you're reliable and will pay back your debts.

3. Number of Derogatory Marks

These include accounts in collections, bankruptcies, foreclosures and liens. Your credit score will be severely negatively affected by a derogatory mark on your credit report. Derogatory marks typically take seven to ten years to clear from credit history, and they generally cannot be removed earlier.

A derogatory mark could severely influence your chances of getting approved for credit; it indicates to a lender that you may have significantly mismanaged credit in the past.

4. Average Age of Open Credit Lines

This factor averages the ages of your open credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans and other lines of credit on your credit report. If your credit history is lengthy, lenders have more information to accurately assess creditworthiness. It's also frequently an indication that you have been able to successfully manage your credit.

For this reason, closing your oldest credit card account is typically ill-advised. It will shorten the average length of your open credit lines and reduce your available credit, possibly increasing your credit utilization rate. Think carefully about when you may want to close an old credit card account, and when you may want to avoid doing so.

5. Total Number of Accounts

This credit score factor totals up your number of credit cards, auto and student loans, mortgages and other lines of credit. Consumers with a higher number of credit accounts generally have better credit scores, since they've been approved for credit by more lenders. Also, having various types of credit--both revolving and installment--on your profile can positively contribute to your creditworthiness.

However, it's typically not recommended to open several new lines of credit simply to increase your total number of credit accounts. This factor of your credit score is usually weighed less heavily than the rest. If you are in the market to apply for new credit, make sure you first read reviews and research which product is right for you.

6. Total Hard Credit Inquiries

The final factor commonly used in your credit score is your total number of hard credit inquiries. Hard inquiries occur when a financial institution, such as a lender or credit card issuer, checks your credit in order to decide whether to approve you for a loan or credit card. A hard inquiry may occur when you apply for any of the following:

  • Auto loan
  • Student loan
  • Business loan
  • Personal loan
  • Credit card
  • Mortgage

One hard inquiry could negatively affect your credit score by a few points, but the effect typically will begin to lessen after a couple of months. Multiple hard inquiries generally will more significantly impact your credit score, and can communicate to lenders that you are desperate for credit or are unable to qualify for credit. For this reason, it's a good idea to avoid applying for several lines of credit at once.

Conclusion

It's important to know that, while some of these factors are weighted more heavily than others, no one factor works independently of the others. Each one can contribute to your overall credit score.

To see how your credit score may be affected by each of these factors, log on to Credit Karma regularly.

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Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

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2 Contributions
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I am totally amazed at the credit rating agencies.  They have independent power and are not responsible to anyone.  In 2010, my FICO- II score dropped 30 points in four months, and I didn't do anything but pay my bills.  No new credit, etc.  FICO's response was that they changed their algorithm. 

Today, my TransUnion new score is 775 out of a possible 850; my Vantage score is 990 out of 990; my auto score is 905 our to 950; and my home score is 912 our of 950.  All scores computed from the same database on the same day.  Why the variances? Use of different algorithms.  Who controls the algorithms?  The rating agencies.  What can you do about it----nothing! I filed a complaint against the rating agencies in 2010 to the FTC, and to date, they have acknowledged receipt but have not responded.  They are not going to repond.  The rating agencies run wild.

I don't need new credit.  I am 73 years old, and have assets.  However, I do pay auto and home insurance each year and not having my home and auto scores maxed-out affects what I pay for home and auto insurance each year.  Probably costs me several hundred dollars for my private residence and rentals.

I repeat, the credit rating agencies have more power over your financial life than you can imagine, and they report to no one.  Not one government agency will get involved in the algorithms used by rating agencies.  It's their call.  Not even the new Consumer Protection Agency will touch this subject.  I know.  I tried to get them involved. 

Read and weep.

"The Big Kahuna"

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Reply by
EddyTX

1884 Contributions
3672 People Helped
Helpful to 140 out of 178 people

Your right. There is no one algorithmic that will work unless every agency that reported information such as payments received new lines of credit. Etc etc. on a daily basis. 

It vertually impossible. 

And since there isn't a central bank there is no telling what info is available to anyone at any given time. 

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Reply by
bluedog2384

14 Contributions
469 People Helped
Helpful to 306 out of 347 people

Big Kahuna,  Do a google search on LexisNexis.  This is a data collecting firm that collects personal information - not credit scores.  It is a type of clearing house for most insurance companies.  (Creditors report your credit info to credit bureaus / insurance companies report your claims, etc to NexisLexis.) Most, if not all, of the insurance companies use the databases of LexisNexis to determine how much you'll pay for insurance.   By law, LexisNexis must provide you with a copy of your 'information/records' upon request.  Their website has a information request form that must be filled out and mailed to them.  In turn, they will send you copy of your information. This may help you determine why you're not receiving a better car / home insurance rate.  Good luck!

Reply by
riverafamily

1 Contribution
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Helpful to 59 out of 79 people

You are so right.  It is a retarded system that makes no logical sense what so ever. It is only a way to get people to pay more money out of their butts!

Reply by
dpriotti

1 Contribution
1 Person Helped
Helpful to 1 out of 1 people

The Big Kahuna, Your right on the money on that one, This has to get better, ITs like they porpously want to keep the america people down. This way of giving scores need to be looked at on an individual basic. My score dropped 100 points, I opened a business credit card and pay my bill off every month. YEt the agency monthlyt  report caught it and due to my utilization being high that motnh it dropped 100 points. next month balance at ) and yet my score did not rise, CAn someone explain that?
 

Reply by
jssamp

2 Contributions
9 People Helped

It's called freedom JAllanAT. If you own some property or assets don't you think you should have the choice to do as you will with what is yours. And the right to say what you think or feel without others restricting what you say or preventing you from airing such grievances?

Its the same with these companies and the people and companies who value what they say enough to pay for it.

I hope you can be at peace 4% below a perfect home score and thankful that you have the resources to achieve all that you have earned.

Reply by
Drrick1999

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

Absolutely true. The credit agencies have NO responsibility to you to make sure the information in your report is true/accurate. How can we change that? I'm glad you asked. Make each incident finable to $500K. Why so much... you can't buy a home, rent an apt, buy a car, even jobs now are tied to credit scores as well as insurances. These companies get PAID for your information!!!!  why shouldn't it be accurate. Nothing should be posted to your credit account without first notifying you and giving you 60 days to respond. No response, then its there. I can pretty much assure you that 80% or more of people's credit information are actually inaccurate, and with that there's no liability to you. It's time that changes. 

Reply by
jonzy320

3 Contributions
1 Person Helped

JAllen, I agree with you but I guess we will find out in federal court.  My story is somewhat different as my business is tied in with personal credit and yes (my fault for not being incorporated) but I currently have no late payments, no collections, no new trade accounts, applied for nothing and yet had 4 hard inquiries within 30 days my score dropped 55 points which now puts me in a category of a person who does not pay anything.  The FTC is useless unless it benefits them, been there done that. 

Reply by
Aymen1

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Helpful to 0 out of 1 people

With all due respect, you're just now finding all that out?

Reply by
Chili7

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

Enter Your Reply  BRAVO - KIND SIR!!!

Reply by
mozam

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

Congress should ban credit agencies from using "credit inquiries" to manipulate credit scores. That focus is grasping at creditworthy straws.

Reply by
mfellion

9 Contributions
435 People Helped

They are never going to respond as long as we keep electing the same old same old to office.  We need change, you can pick Trump or Sanders for change but Hillary forget it. Same with your local congressman or senator.   I have a 6 hard polls on one and 4 on another which is supposed to be bad yet those were done to see if what it would cost me to buy a house, get a discount at Sears. Lowes and target.  Total nonsense on the way they do the scores.   Same thing is done by the insurance companies, try having an accident, take your money for years and than when you collect for the insurance suddenly you are uninsurable. 

Reply by
mlwsmoney2

2 Contributions
3 People Helped

Enter Your ReplyBoy, you hit it right on the head. They have way too much uncontrolled, complete power, and we have none. Its so frustrating. They make it almost impossible to contact them in any way, and when you finally figure out how, they simply do not respond, ever. So there you are, at their mercy. I don't know how this happened, how credit agencies got such control, but its awful.

Reply by
Ellevaliant

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

This is very sad because it sounds like you would be on top of the list. I will pray for you. I had everything taken from me illegally, and now I am trying to rebuild with the little I have,but God is in control and I know He wants us to fight the good fight. Do not give up.

Blessings,

Elle

Top Contributor
1758 Contributions
3023 People Helped

Helpful to 234 out of 264 people

Here is a better way to think of the different Credit Score.

Just as different Gas stations have different types of Grades of Gas and Blends  the Credit bureaus have Different Credit Scores.

So we have ExxonMobil, Chevron and Phillips 66   they each have Grades of gas and they each put something different into it so they say to make your car run better.

Well TransUnion, Experian and Equifax have different Credit Scores  each Credit Score is like a different blend of gas.  They also have the FICO Score but that is not given out to the public from each of their sites.  If you want you FICO Score you have to get it from www.myFICO.com and pay to get it.  or have one of the Credit Cards like the Discover IT card that will give it to you each month from one of the Credit Bureaus.

There is also the Vantage Credit Score that should be close to your FICO score ( or so they say ) but that is hard to compare.  CreditKarma is using a OLD Out Dated Vantage Score that is more less useless to us.

So the Credit Scores your see here take with a grain of salt.  Same thing for the scores you get from TransUnion,  Experian and Equifax take those with a gain of salt.  These are not FICO scores.

Again the only way to get your FICO Score is to Pay for it at  www.myFICO.com   or by one of the Credit Cards that supply one of the Credit Bureaus FICO scores on your statement.

Hope this helps out.

Reply by
litljimmy

1 Contribution
24 People Helped
Helpful to 24 out of 56 people

Here is a guy that may know a little something about credit scores, but is completely lost when he talks about "gas stations" !!  ..  Not a good comparison (take that with a grain of salt) .......   litljimmy

Reply by
poco16

2 Contributions
85 People Helped
Helpful to 83 out of 97 people

Enter Your Reply Discover card gives you a free fico score each month on your statement. mine was the same as trans union score. mine rose 40 points in 6 months  people who complain are usually those who are late paying, or have negative information. If your balance is more than30% on a credit card, that is also a factor, too many accounts.  Stick with the oldest one and make double payments each month .If you have old information, which is derogatory, write a letter to the credit burea, and send it in the us mail.  They will pay more attention to it.  Always be kind, and don't be combative.  This worked for me.  If you are honest and use the right words, it will work for you. Don't give up after the first reply.  Try different angles of approach. When you write, use words that are appealing to the person reading your letter. They are human,and will pay more attention to sincerity.  Pretend you are the person reading the letter. .Sincerly, space man

Reply by
jssamp

2 Contributions
9 People Helped
Helpful to 9 out of 18 people

Restaurants or department stores may be a better analogies. Different people have different tastes, customs and business processes.

Reply by
Galant07

4 Contributions
0 People Helped

A mortgage lender told me that the credit scores on creditkarma are not your true scores. I thought that I had a good credit score but found out later that it was 60 points less than what creditkarma is reporting...smh.

1 Contribution
119 People Helped

Helpful to 119 out of 130 people

Just to set a few things straight... I've spoken a lot to each of the three credit bureaus as well as to two different reps from Fair Isaac (makers of FICO).  According to TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax reps, the credit bureaus do not offer a FICO score.  A FICO score is based on a complex math computation based on the data stored on your credit report.  Each credit bureau provides their own listing of items about you that they call your credit report.  The three bureaus may or may not have the same information about you.  When a company (like CreditKarma) generates a FICO score for you they take the information from your credit report from one or more of the credit bureaus and run the complex calculation on it to generate a score.  This means that which credit bureau(s) they use to garner information about you changes your score completely.  As if that wasn't misleading enough already, Fair Isaac states that there isn't just one FICO score.  There are multiple type of FICO score based on what type of viewpoint you want about the person in question and, even more confusing, there are multiple VERSIONS of each math formula used to generate each of these FICO scores.  If you get a FICO score from Credit Karma it may or may not be anywhere near a FICO score from ANY other source.  In the end, FICO scores are useful for comparing against past and future FICO scores FROM THE SAME CREDIT BUREAU AND PREPARED BY THE SAME END COMPANY.  Basically, compare your current Credit Karma FICO score with past and future Credit Karma FICO scores and you will have a general idea of whether your credit is improving or worsening.  

One finaly caveat to add...FICO formulas get changed occasionally which means the way a company (like Credit Karma) comes up with your FICO score may not be the same way they did it the month before.  That means your score can go up or down without ANY changes to the information at any of the three bureaus.  How do you get around this?...Pay attention to your full credit REPORT from all three bureaus and stop worrying about your score.

1 Contribution
275 People Helped

Helpful to 275 out of 307 people

It should be noted that Credit Karma's scores are not completely accurate. My TU score on here read 727 only 2 days ago and still does while yesterday when I got prequalified on a home loan the pulled credit report read 750.  The only consolation that I have is that they were wrong in the right direcction. However, it is clear that my scores are very stable 750/751/753, because my balances remain about the same and I don't have very many open accounts. In any case, Credit Karma is a useful tool to get a handle on your debt.

Reply by
JohnDeere1953

3 Contributions
323 People Helped
Helpful to 232 out of 272 people

I appreciate knowing about the diviance in scores. I still wish there was a system more fair to seniors. I have one credit card that I pay off every month and never charge more than 20 percent of its limit. My house, vehicle, etc. are all paid for. I spend very little as I need little. I have been frugal all my life and now I find a credit score of 673. I don't owe a soul and am very careful with my money. I just don't understand why I am penalized for that. If anyone has an answer to that I'd certainly like to hear it. Thank you.

Reply by
minnebrew

2 Contributions
123 People Helped
Helpful to 80 out of 105 people

You are correct, Amayama. I actually called TU because while they scored me in the excellent range, and my Vanguard score could not have been higher, my car insurance score was only in the "fair" range. TU gave me the runaround, never explaining how that could be, and then told me that the score Credit Karma posts was not my score.  Really frustrated and amused at way Credit Karma got thrown under the bus.

Who do I believe?

Reply by
mrecae45

1 Contribution
71 People Helped
Helpful to 71 out of 89 people

I had a score 819 several months ago and now that I check my srore It's 774. Nothing in my accounts have change for several years. You guys have got it all wroung.

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Reply by
njmack61

11 Contributions
91 People Helped
Helpful to 2 out of 3 people

Enter Your Reply your right credit karma ia not accurate i have payed off two credit cards & thay are still on there that i owe the money to the banks. i sent a e-mail to them have heard nothing as of yet & that was about three weeks ago. and some of my balances are incorrect to so thay do not keep up with there site

Reply by
kyletfg

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

JohnDeere, it is likely because you only have one credit card. Because two big factors to your score - number of accounts and debt utilization - are positively influenced by more cards and credit, having just one card lowers the potential ceiling on your credit score.

For example, lets imagine your one credit card has $10,000 in available credit. The most you charge is 20%, so $2,000. Now imagine if you had ten cards with $10,000 in available credit - but still used maximum $2,000 on the one. First your score would increase from ten credit cards versus one (as long as average age didn't lower in this hypothetical world - which it would in real life). Second, your score would increase because the $2,000 in spending would represent just 2% of your new $100,000 in total available credit.

Note that I don't recommend you apply for nine credit cards right now. At your age and current situation, I'm not sure that would be helpful. But if you had applied to nine cards, say, 15 years ago then your score very likely would be higher than it is now.

Reply by
Lucy1936

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

My Credit Karma score is always lower than scores from other sources.  One of my credit cards supply free of charge a credit score.  It is always much higher than Credit Karma.  I will not waste my time to try to figure it out.  I am just glad for a good score.

Reply by
homersimpson2

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

I agree, My wife and I have found Credit Karma is a horrible place to find out your credit score. We were trying to consolidate debt and thinking we were very bad off I thought the odds of us getting a personal loan was impossible. When we applied at a reputable bank we found out our scores were 100 points higher for both of us then Credit Karma said, they used Equifax which supposedly so does Credit Karma! I think it's horrible that they mislead you so badly, if you notice after they tell you how bad your score is they offer you recommendations which are Consoldation Loans with companies they suggest, I wonder how much money they get for everyone they send their way! ven if you have to pay for a monthly service to check your scores you are better off then using Credit Karma!

4 Contributions
59 People Helped

Helpful to 53 out of 64 people

I want to know why I have such a good credit rating on Credit Karma, but the othe scores are not favorable at all.  I have NEVER missed or been late on a payment EVER.  I personally have never been in an auto accident nor have I had a moving violation in the 34 years of driving so why is my auto and home score poor?  I don't understand your calculations and how these very so drastically. 

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Reply by
njmack61

11 Contributions
91 People Helped
Helpful to 14 out of 33 people

Enter Your Reply you think that one bad i don't even have a car nor do i have a driving lis. i have never had one nor have i ever had a car why have a car when i don't drive

Reply by
Dreamer5866

3 Contributions
13 People Helped
Helpful to 10 out of 16 people

Enter Your Replying also don't understand that and why is it you always pay your bills on time or before get a great number on that but if you have any loans you pay why is it your credit report goes down in this case I just believe it's them trying to make it harder for anyone who knows they can pay but lower your number to poor just because you apply,I disagree totally on how they come up with your credit score to begin with

2 Contributions
47 People Helped

Helpful to 47 out of 56 people

A credit score is the tool the finance companies use to determine what interest rate you are qualified for when you take out a loan or credit card of any kind. The truth is the same people who are in control of that score are the exact same people who issue you the loan. So it benefits them for you to have a lower score.Since they can make more money off of you through interest rates. Thier motivation is not to allow you a good score.It's just the opposite. the meager score you have is the score they believe will give you just enough hope.So you do not lose interest in using this system which they have full control over.Once you wake up and notice this. We'll start trading among ourselvces again.And they will start losing all of that money. Then and only then will they change thier motivations and want to do w/e they can to get back into your wallets.

Reply by
SMREARDON

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

"The truth is the same people who are in control of that score are the exact same people who issue you the loan." - This is a blatantly false statement, as credit issuers and lenders in no way 'control' the development of a credit score. Credit Scores are developed from information obtained from a consumers credit history/file and only incorporate information that is reported to the bureaus by credit issuers. Loan originators do not create scores for their own use so they can "make more money off you through interest rates", but rather leverage those scores as a general baseline for risk assesment, so they can price their product(s) appropriately (i.e. interest rates, annual fees, etc.) 

3 Contributions
84 People Helped

Helpful to 47 out of 58 people

I had things against my credit, paid them off, opened a couple small accounts to start building credit. With the internet , everything you look at online is tracked, so if your looking at houses or cars, then you have morgage lenders and car fiance companies running your credit without you asking them to. I was building up a decent score had a "C" now I have a "D" or back to "F" because of all these inquiries. I never invited these people to investigate my credit. Capital one sent me things in the mail nearly every day for a week pre approved based on my credit, which meant they had gone into my credit file, then they sent another, so I finally broke down and filled it out what did they do, they turned me down, after pulling my score down with their multiple enteries into my credit checking my score uninvited. Additionally Quicken Loans and Lending Tree has done this. So watch where you travel on your computer, or use a fake name address and phone number if you fill anything out on line that your looking at or it may hurt your credit you are trying to build.  Seems like they don't play very fair. Then if you want to buy a car, you get the best rates on fiancing based on your credit score. That is naturally give to the Rich and take from the poor attitute. " As the song says, "ONLY IN AMERICAN"  

How long does it take for those inquiries to disappear.? I see some on there that has been there a year.

Reply by
thanrah1

1 Contribution
41 People Helped
Helpful to 41 out of 44 people

If your looking at houses and/or cars and these companies are running credit checks on you it's because your giving them more information than you probably want to i.e. S.S. #'s, DOB's etc..

Just looking at ads is not enough to track your credit history, all that gives them is your IP.

3 Contributions
84 People Helped

Helpful to 37 out of 45 people

When you pay off debts in the credit breau, why isn't that information removed then. Rather than still show up as deliquent accounts.

How long does hard inquires stay on your account ? How can companies do hard inquiries without your permission ?

How long does soft inquiries stay on your account, and why are companies allowed to look at your credit without your consent, subtracting points and offering you pre approved credit, based on what you now have in your credit history. It seems to me they are kinda peeping through your window and should be arrested or at least fined, but it is not going against them, it is hurting us the consumer, they want to sell to.

1 Contribution
31 People Helped

Helpful to 31 out of 38 people

my score on credit karma has been constantly 55 to 60 points below what is pulled from the major three credit companies. Doesn't make sense. Can anyone explain why this may be?  I cant rely on CK for a true score.

3 Contributions
323 People Helped

Helpful to 88 out of 107 people

Why is there not a separate scoring system for senior citizens who have worked hard to have house, car, etc. paid for and don't use credit cards very often simply because we have no reason to do so?

Reply by
howard3100

8 Contributions
1809 People Helped
Helpful to 74 out of 85 people

I totally agree. I am going back to Experian and try to add trade accounts from years ago to render my reports "less thin".  For some reason, Equifax keeps old accounts longer than the others.  Equifax is extremely easy to work with by phone rather than online.  To be fair, they all three are.  I am 70 years young and plan to get a new mortgage for a home in Florida and I am making this credit experience my full time job to get my score as high as possible.  Who knew????

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Reply by
bluedog2384

14 Contributions
469 People Helped
Helpful to 47 out of 55 people

JohnDeere, I agree that while it's "not fair" that senior citizens or anyone with a house and car that is paid for seems to be penalized under this system, it is also important to remember that we all must do our part to maintain the best credit score possible by utilizing the credit you do have.  Try to look at the situation from a new perspective.  You state you have "no reason to use your credit cards".   A very good reason to use them would be to maintain a current and high reaching credit score.  Use the cards for daily purchases (whether you have the cash or not) and then pay the complete balance at the end of the month.  This is just one way to maintain a credit history and decent score so that credit will be there when/if you need it.

Reply by
katpao

6 Contributions
39 People Helped
Helpful to 39 out of 45 people

Bluedog234-  "we all must do our part to maintain the best credit score possible by utilizing the credit you do have"  You are freaking kidding me. So grandma pays off her house and car, now she has to go out and play a little credit card game, and you are saying it is her responsiblity to do so? Only in the USA.

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