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Just Give Me a Reason My Credit Score Isn’t Higher

June 11, 2014
Credit Cards
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If you’re looking for a reason why your credit score is so low, it turns out there are a lot of them — and each one comes with a number known as a “reason code.” Here’s what you need to know about reason codes and what they mean.

What’s a reason code and where do I find it?

If you order your VantageScore credit score, you’ll see several two-digit numbers underneath your three-digit credit score. These are your reason codes. The codes represent why your credit score isn’t higher. Even if you have decent credit, it’s probably not perfect, so you’ll see reason codes.

Remember, ordering your credit score is not the same thing as ordering your credit reports — which you should do for free each year. You will have to purchase your credit score in order to get a legitimate score.

What are some examples of reason codes?

I won’t go through a compete list of reason codes, but I’ll give you a few examples. To look up your specific reason codes, check out and type in your codes. Here are the first five possible reason codes you might see on your credit score report. Note: There are several possible options for each code, which your credit score paperwork should specify.

  • 01 – No open accounts: You have no open credit accounts to speak of.

  • 02 – No accounts with valid credit accounts: You have credit accounts, but there aren’t amounts associated with them.

  • 03 – No recently reported accounts: You haven’t been using your credit, so there isn’t any recent activity to report.

  • 04 – No presently rated accounts: The reporting agencies don’t have enough credit behavior information about you yet.

  • 05 – Too many of the delinquencies on your accounts are recent: You have account delinquencies — or late payments — and they happened recently enough to make you look risky.

Reasons aside, how can you increase your credit score?

I’d recommend fixing any issues revealed by your reason codes to increase your credit score, but here’s some general advice for anyone trying to improve their credit:

  • Make your payments on time, every time. I’ve said it before — roughly 20,000 times — and I’ll say it again: The No. 1 thing you can do for your credit is make all of your payments on time. Whether it’s a debt payment or a phone bill, make it a priority to make 100% of your payments on time.

  • Open a credit account. You need to use credit to build your credit score. I recommend opening a secured credit card and eventually transitioning to an unsecured card.

  • Keep your revolving balance low. Ideally, you’ll pay off your balance each and every month to avoid paying interest. If this isn’t possible, at least aim to keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit.

  • Let time do its thing. Length of credit history is an important aspect of your score. If you’re doing everything else to improve your credit, you still need to wait. Good habits + time = a great credit score!

No matter the reason, it’s important for you to improve your credit score. An excellent score will give you the best terms on future credit accounts and easily qualify you for everything from a cell phone to a mortgage! If you choose to order your credit score, use your reason codes to bring your credit from less-than-stellar to spectacular!

Woman looking at question mark image via Shutterstock