You may see a score dip — even though you did exactly what you agreed to do by paying off the loan. The same is true of credit cards. Usually, paying off a credit card helps lower your credit utilization because your remaining balances are a smaller percentage of your overall credit limit.
If you pay off a credit card debt and close the account, the total amount of credit available to you decreases. As a result, your overall utilization may go up, leading to a drop in your credit score.
When you pay off a loan, your credit score could be negatively affected. This is because your credit history is shortened, and roughly 10% of your score is based on how old your accounts are. If you've paid off a loan in the past few months, you may just now be seeing your score go down.
Paying off a credit card doesn't usually hurt your credit scores—just the opposite, in fact. It can take a month or two for paid-off balances to be reflected in your score, but reducing credit card debt typically results in a score boost eventually, as long as your other credit accounts are in good standing.
Paying off debt also lowers your credit utilization rate, which helps boost your credit score.
Pros of paying your credit card off in full
You'll avoid paying interest if you pay your credit card balance off in full each month by the due date. Establish a better credit score: Using your credit card and repaying your balance will help you establish a good payment history.
Keeping Your Open Credit Cards Active
While having a zero balance on your accounts is great for your utilization rate, it's also important to keep them open and active. That means you may have to use them for more than just emergencies.
FICO credit scores, the industry standard for sizing up credit risk, range from 300 to a perfect 850—with 670 to 739 labeled “good,” 740-799 “very good” and 800 to 850 “exceptional.” A 700 score places you right in the middle of the good range, but still slightly below the average credit score of 711.
It's Best to Pay Your Credit Card Balance in Full Each Month
Leaving a balance will not help your credit scores—it will just cost you money in the form of interest. Carrying a high balance on your credit cards has a negative impact on scores because it increases your credit utilization ratio.
Credit scores can drop due to a variety of reasons, including late or missed payments, changes to your credit utilization rate, a change in your credit mix, closing older accounts (which may shorten your length of credit history overall), or applying for new credit accounts.
If you've made a late payment or have other derogatory information listed on one of your credit reports, it could cause your score to drop at least 30 points. Also, using more of your available credit or closing one of your oldest credit card accounts could cause a large drop in your score.
The amount your credit score improves depends a lot on how high your utilization was in the first place. If you're already close to maxing out your credit cards, your credit score could jump 10 points or more when you pay off credit card balances completely.
Credit utilization — the portion of your credit limits that you are currently using — is a significant factor in credit scores. It is one reason your credit score could drop a little after you pay off debt, particularly if you close the account.
The standard advice is to keep unused accounts with zero balances open. The reason is that closing the accounts reduces your available credit, which makes it appear that your utilization rate, or balance-to-limit ratio, has suddenly increased.
Your FICO® Score falls within a range, from 740 to 799, that may be considered Very Good. A 750 FICO® Score is above the average credit score. Borrowers with scores in the Very Good range typically qualify for lenders' better interest rates and product offers.
A 700 credit score meets the minimum requirements for most mortgage lenders, so it's possible to purchase a house when you're in that range. However, lenders look at more than just your credit score to determine your eligibility, so having a 700 credit score won't guarantee approval.
Experts say you need a minimum credit score of 620 to be approved for a conventional mortgage loan. As a result, a credit score of 790 should make a mortgage approval highly likely.
699 credit score mortgage loan options
A conventional mortgage usually requires a minimum credit score of 620. This means that with a score of 699, you have a high probability of being approved for a mortgage loan.
According to FICO, about 98% of “FICO High Achievers” have zero missed payments. And for the small 2% who do, the missed payment happened, on average, approximately four years ago. So while missing a credit card payment can be easy to do, staying on top of your payments is the only way you will one day reach 850.
Although ranges vary depending on the credit scoring model, generally credit scores from 580 to 669 are considered fair; 670 to 739 are considered good; 740 to 799 are considered very good; and 800 and up are considered excellent.
In general, lenders look for borrowers in the prime range or better, so you will need a score of 661 or higher to qualify for most conventional car loans.
By making an early payment before your billing cycle ends, you can reduce the balance amount the card issuer reports to the credit bureaus. And that means your credit utilization will be lower, as well. This can mean a boost to your credit scores.
The best-known range of FICO scores is 300 to 850. Anything above 670 is generally considered to be good. FICO also offers industry-specific FICO scores, such as for credit cards or auto loans, which can range from 250 to 900.