Q: Can having an unused line of credit for 20 years negatively affect your credit rating?—Don Sutton, Victoria
A: Decoding the human genome is a Grade 6 science fair project compared to decoding the credit rating algorithm. There are many variables that go into it but the first one that matters in your case is credit history: From this perspective it can be a positive that you’ve had a line of credit for such a long time. You haven’t used it, but you also haven’t abused it, so that’s good. The second variable is credit utilization—the ratio of your debt to your available credit. This line of credit shows that you have access to credit but aren’t too close to using it all up, which is also positive. That said, lenders always look at the total picture, says Clifton O’Neal from TransUnion. “There is no history to demonstrate responsible management of this line of credit. If you are maxed out on your other lines of credit, this unused line could be seen as a liability.” What I would do is order your credit report from either TransUnion or Equifax. If there’s an issue you can take action to deal with it.