Making a Six-Figure Income Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Have Credit Issues

rebuilding credit

During the 1980’s, when I was growing up, knowing someone who made a six-figure salary was like knowing royalty. It was that number that made you think of owning fancy cars, living in a huge house, and going on lavish vacations. Fast forward to the 21st century and making $100,000 plus does not really seem like all that much money anymore. Still, according to recent Census Bureau data, only a little over 20 percent of American households even break into that six-figure number.

But doesn’t making a six-figure salary pretty much guarantee you will have a good credit rating? Not necessarily. Your salary is not factored into your FICO score, but lenders will consider it when approving you for a loan. Loan and/or credit approval is based on your income and your FICO score. But how can someone who makes over $100,000 a year possibly have credit issues? There are some interesting factors which play into why someone who makes a decent income has bad credit. Let’s see what they are and how these factors affect their credit scores.

Feeling the Pressure to Keep up with the Joneses

This is cliché but true. Let’s say you have graduated from college and landed your first real job. Gone are your grungy pals from college only to be replaced with well dressed, sophisticated work colleagues and/or neighbors. They all drive BMW’s and have a garage full of “toys” and you feel the need to join in the fun. These extravagant purchases require applying for auto loans and/or credit cards and opening new lines of credit all at once. This could be lowering your FICO score. Why?

Two categories used by FICO when calculating your credit score is “New Credit” and “Credit Mix.” In fact, 10% of your FICO score is based opening new credit lines and another 10% is based on the mix of credit you use. According to, FICO’s official website, “Research shows that opening several credit accounts in a short period of time represents a greater risk – especially for people who don’t have a long credit history.” Not only does FICO look at how many new accounts you open, but also what types of credit you apply for. So, trying to keep up with your neighbors by applying for a lot of credit in a short period of time may negatively affect your credit score. In addition, each time you apply for a loan or credit card, an inquiry shows up on your credit score. Each inquiry can ding your score up to 5 points apiece.

Large Student Loans

When you were in high school, I am sure you thought a lot about what you wanted to be when you grew up. Achieving that goal probably meant going to college, which in turn meant taking out student loans to pay for college. After graduating from college, you landed a good paying job but your six-figure salary doesn’t go very far when paying a large monthly student loan payment. Add that payment to your rent/mortgage payment, car payment, food, and utilities and you have the problem of possibly not being able to make your payments on time.

Why is this important? Making on-time payments makes up the largest portion of your credit score, 35 percent to be exact. To quote FICO, “This is one of the most important factors in a FICO® Score.” So, even though you are making a six-figure salary, paying one or more of your bills late may cause your credit score to decrease.

How to Avoid Credit Issues Making a Six-Figure Salary

Touching on a few reasons why someone making over $100,000 is capable of having credit issues is great – but how can one avoid damaging their credit rating? Get yourself on a monthly budget plan and you will see the following improvements:

  • You will pay your bills on time (35% of FICO is based on payment history)
  • You will lower the amounts owed on your outstanding debts (30% of FICO is based on amounts owed)
  • You will lengthen your current credit history by paying these timely (15% of FICO is based on length of credit history)
  • You will curb the need to apply for new credit (20% of FICO is based on new credit and a mix of credit)

Knowing some of the reasons why a person making a six-figure salary can have credit issues can be helpful to the person who is making half of that salary. Living beyond your means and getting into debt can happen to us all, not just the wealthy. We all need to be mindful of what we spend our money on and making a budget is the best way to keep you and your family on track. Teaching your children about money management will help them avoid credit issues when they become a wage earner. Hopefully, they will look back and realize that no matter how much money they make, they can live within their means, have excellent credit, and be able to save money for their future.

If you find yourself having credit issues despite your salary, you can start your credit repair journey here. You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.