Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'



Contests and

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!


AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

You can get free, face-to-face tax assistance nationwide.

Money Matters Tip Sheets

Download and print out these PDFs to help with your financial matters.

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.


Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming Money webinar or find materials from a past session. 

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Pay Down Your Debt Challenge

Know What Affects Your Credit Score

Here's how your FICO score is determined and how you can raise it

As an even more drastic step, you can also cut up a credit card you won't be using, and still leave the account open. Just recognize, however, that taking the scissors to your Visa or MasterCard says more about you than it does about that piece of plastic. Credit cards aren't inherently bad or evil. It's our own inability to manage credit wisely that gets us into trouble.

Mix of credit: 10 percent of your credit score
The credit-scoring world also rewards you for showing that you can responsibly juggle multiple forms of credit. Thus, your score will be higher if your credit files include various types of credit, such as a mortgage loan, an installment loan (like a student loan or auto loan) and credit cards. Again, as long as you pay all these obligations on time, you'll boost your credit rating in this category.

Inquiries or new credit: 10 percent of your credit score
A "hard" inquiry is triggered on your credit report whenever you seek credit or apply for a loan. Inquiries remain on your credit reports for two years. For the purpose of calculating your FICO scores, inquiries count against you for one year.

Various experts have estimated that a single inquiry can lower your credit score by anywhere from five points to 35 points. I once had an inquiry lower my credit score by 14 points.  So only apply for credit when you really need it. And skip those department store credit card offers; they just generate inquiries.

A "soft" inquiry, like checking your own credit report, does not hurt your credit score.  You can — and should — check your credit reports from each of the three main credit bureaus at least once a year. You can get your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports free of charge annually at

You should also know that factors such as your income, race, age, gender or marital status play no role whatsoever in computing your credit scores. In fact, federal law prohibits the use of race, age, nationality, religion, sex or marital status in credit scoring.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®, is a personal finance expert, television and radio personality, and a regular contributor to AARP. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can earn 3% cash back on purchases with the AARP® Visa® Card from Chase.

Info on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

Searchable member discounts via AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder mobile app.

Get the most out of your AARP membership – opt-in to receive AARP emails today!

Being Social



Savings Challenge

Have the gift of thrift? Share your tips. Discuss

Hand holding credit cards

Pay Down Your Debt Challenge

Join our challenge July 18-Aug. 14 and start your debt-free journey. Discuss