One of the most common questions consumers ask is about the number of accounts that should be kept on credit reports in order to earn great credit scores. While the attention paid to the “quantity” is to be expected, thankfully it is largely unnecessary. Credit scores tend to focus on your credit-management, methods—your “quality,” rather than your quantity.
Still, according to our research, consumers who have “prime” credit scores have an average of 13 loans on their credit reports. And the oldest loan is more than 15 years old.
That doesn’t mean you can boost your credit score by running out and adding loans until you have a baker’s dozen in your credit file. That tally does not necessarily mean 13 active loans with balances. It can, and normally does, mean 13 loans accumulated over many years of time, most of which are long since paid off.
Credit reporting agencies will maintain even paid-off and inactive loans for up to 10 years, which means you can easily accumulate what appears to be a large number of credit obligations. Still, what is most important is not how many credit obligations you have, but how well you are managing those obligations.
For example, someone with one or two loans that are heavily leveraged or in default is considerably riskier than someone with 13 well-managed accounts. The proof will be in their wildly divergent credit scores. And if you choose to live a lighter credit lifestyle, you too can earn tremendous credit scores, as long as you are making payments on time and maintaining respectable amounts of debt on your credit card accounts.