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Does Having a Savings Account Improve Your Credit Score?

By Sarah Li Cain · July 12, 2022 · 7 minute read

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Does Having a Savings Account Improve Your Credit Score?

Having a savings account doesn’t directly improve your credit score, but having a healthy balance can help you create a solid foundation to building one.

More specifically, the better your financial situation—which could include having a good chunk of savings in your bank account—the more likely you are to be able to afford loan payments, which can help you boost your score. Plus, having more in savings shows lenders you’re most likely not borrowing more than you can afford.

Let’s take a look at what affects your credit score, and how maintaining savings can help you build it. Here, you’ll learn more about:

•   How having a savings account can impact your credit score

•   Which factors affect your credit score

•   How to grow your savings account balance.

Understanding Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a three-digit number, ranging from 300 to 850, that is calculated by the big three reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. While your score may vary a bit depending on what model is used to come up with the number, here is how the figure typically stacks up, from a fair credit score to an excellent one:

•   580 to 669: Fair

•   670 to 739: Good

•   740 to 799: Very good

•   800 and higher: Excellent

If you are not sure of your score, you can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three reporting agencies. It’s wise to look over your report for any inaccuracies and work to correct them as soon as possible.

As you review your score, know that it reflects your credit behavior in the past and indicates how good a credit risk you are in the future. Your number will reflect whether you have a history of paying bills late or have defaulted on payments, along with other financial data. Keep reading to learn more about what can improve or hurt your number.

Factors That Affect Credit Score

Your credit score can play a big role in your qualifying for loans at the best possible rate, as well as getting approved for an apartment rental. Here, take a look at some of the key factors that influence your credit score:

Payment History

One of the biggest factors in calculating your credit score is whether you make on-time payments. In fact, it accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score, which is what most lenders use when assessing your credit application.

One late or missed payment could negatively affect your score, as lenders want to be sure you can make on-time loan payments.

Credit Utilization Ratio

Another important factor is your credit utilization ratio, which means how much of your available credit you are using. This measure determines 30% of your FICO score.

Let’s say you have a credit card with a limit of $10,000. Many experts will say that you should only carry a balance of 30% of your credit limit or less, which would be $3,000. Other financial advisors point to the fact that those with excellent credit scores use, on average, just six percent of their credit limit. Using the $10,000 credit limit again, that would be a balance of only $600.

Here’s why these numbers matter: If your ratio or percentage is high, that can mean you are stretched thin financially. This in turn can possibly make you look like a risky prospect to a potential lender. A high credit utilization ratio could also negatively impact your credit score, taking your number still lower.

Credit History

The length of time you’ve held onto certain credit accounts can affect your credit score. Though it’s not a major factor (it only accounts for 15% of your FICO score), having a longer credit history can help you increase your credit score.

FICO specifically looks at the age of your oldest account, the average age of your credit accounts, and the age of your newest account. It also looks at how long you’ve held certain accounts and how long it’s been since you’ve used ones.

This is something to keep in mind when you are considering closing accounts. If you often open and then close, say, credit cards, or do the same with bank accounts when you see new offers that appeal to you, it could have a negative result on your credit score. You are not showing the reporting bureaus that you can responsibly use credit over a long period of time.

Credit Mix

Your credit mix accounts for 10% of your credit score and refers to the types of credit accounts you have. Credit scores typically look at debt such as:

•   Revolving accounts. These give you flexibility regarding how much you pay each month, and include credit cards, home equity line of credit (HELOC), retail store cards, and similar accounts.

•   Installment accounts. These are the accounts that have a fixed amount you pay every month, such as a student loan, car loan, and/or mortgage.

The better the “mix” or credit types you have, the higher your score could be, as it shows you’re responsible with a variety of accounts. However, since this only contributes 10% of your total credit score, it is not a problem if you don’t currently hold a wide array of accounts. If, say, you only have revolving accounts in your credit history, you do not need to hurry and take out, say, a car loan.

New Credit Accounts

How often you apply for and open new accounts typically contributes 10% of your credit score. The more accounts you open or apply for within a short span of time, the more risky you appear. It can look as if you’re not financially stable and are rushing to access more credit. This “riskiness” could be compounded if you don’t have a long credit history.

How a Savings Account Could Help You Maintain Your Credit Score

How much money you have in your savings account won’t directly boost your credit score. Even if you have a lot of money in a high-yield savings account, bringing in some steady interest income, this fact doesn’t get sent to the credit reporting agencies. Therefore, it won’t increase your credit score.

By the same token, how you manage your savings account shouldn’t lower your credit score either. Even if you have overdrafted a savings account, that information won’t be communicated to the credit reporting agencies unless your debt is turned over to a collection agency.

However, there is the possibility that a savings account could help you maintain a positive credit score. Here are some examples of how a healthy savings account (any of the common types of savings account is fine, by the way) could help:

•   Having money in a savings account means you’re less likely to make late bill payments.

•   Maintaining a savings account could mean you’re better prepared for emergencies, making you less likely to apply for new loans.

•   You’re more likely to pay off your credit card balance each month if you have a savings account, which could help you maintain a lower credit utilization ratio.

•   With a savings account, you could rely on using your credit card less, which could in turn prevent a high balance and credit utilization ratio.

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Tips for Growing Your Savings Balance

Having a large amount of money in a savings account isn’t going to automatically send your credit score soaring. However, it’ll help your financial situation overall, and raising your credit score could be a byproduct.

Having enough cash to pay your expenses, plus a buffer, is a smart idea. What’s even better is to have an emergency fund —a good rule of thumb is to aim for at least three to six months worth of expenses—so you don’t have to rely on credit if an emergency happens.

In other words, having more money could mean you’ll tend to borrow money less. You may well use your plastic less often and therefore will lower the risk of falling behind on payments.

If this sounds like a win-win to you, here are some ways you can save more with a savings account:

•   Cut back unnecessary expenses (say, subscribing to every possible streaming service or eating out frequently) and deposit the money saved into your account

•   Open a separate savings account. Many people spend whatever they see in their checking account.

•   Set up automatic withdrawals to a savings account, perhaps on payday, to again siphon money from checking before it gets spent. What percent of your paycheck to save depends on your personal situation. For instance, one person might have significant student loans to repay; another might not. It’s fine to start small; $20 can be a good starting point.

•   Work a side hustle temporarily to earn more income. Options include driving for a ride-share service, walking dogs, or selling items that you craft.

•   Save your tax return and other additional income streams like bonuses rather than spending them.

•   Sell gently used items that you no longer need or use.

•   Refinance loans to a lower interest rate and set aside the difference between your new and old monthly payments in your savings account.

•   Open a high-yield savings account that offers a higher interest rate than your current one; your money should grow faster that way.

The Takeaway

Having money in a savings account won’t directly build your credit score. The three-digit number is more a reflection of how well you have used credit in the past. It indicates whether, say, you have paid your bills on time and not overextended yourself with too much borrowing.

However, having enough cash in savings can possibly help your credit score in other ways. It can be a cushion that allows you to make on-time credit payments, which is a major factor in how your credit score is calculated. In addition, a healthy savings account, even if it doesn’t impact your credit score, is an important step towards financial wellness and stability.

If you want to grow your savings, consider banking with SoFi. Open a new online bank account with direct deposit, and you’ll earn a competitive APY. You can save money with SoFi too, because you won’t pay any of the usual banking fees. Not spending on those charges can mean more money in the bank for you.

Better banking is here with up to 3.25% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQs

Can you build credit with a savings account?

Having a savings account won’t directly affect your credit score. However, having enough money in a savings account can indirectly help your score. Having ample cash could mean you’re more likely to make on-time payments and not need to take out multiple loans.

Do banks run credit checks for savings accounts?

Banks tend to look at reports from ChexSystems and similar agencies when a customer applies for an account. These organizations gather information on your past use of banking products. If a bank does decide to do a credit check, they typically perform a soft credit inquiry with the credit-report agencies. These inquiries should not affect your credit score.

Is it worth it to have a savings account?

Having a savings account is useful in many areas of your financial life, such as creating an emergency fund. Unlike traditional checking accounts, savings accounts typically pay interest, which is another valuable perk. (If you live in Canada, you might look into tax-free savings accounts, which can help you stash pre-tax dollars.)


Photo credit: iStock/FG Trade

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