Paying off your car loan is important, but it just doesn't help your credit score.
The No. 1 indicator of good credit is a long history of on-time payments. In fact, MyFICO estimates 30 percent of your score is your payment history. You want your established accounts to be open for a good period of time with no derogatory information on your report. Paying off your car loan early shortens the amount of payment history entered on your credit report, which does not increase your credit score.
The advice to pay your credit accounts refers to your credit utilization. According to MyFICO, credit utilization accounts for 30 percent of your credit score. Credit utilization refers to the amount of debt you have in relation to your credit limits. The conventional advice is to keep your balance around 25 to 30 percent of your credit limit. Utilization weighs heavily in
revolving credit but less in installment loans. So, paying down your car loan will not have the positive impact in your total credit utilization as a credit card would.
Closing the Account
Paying off your car loan immediately closes the account. You no longer get monthly updates of positive payment history increasing your credit score. As time goes on, the positive impact of the loan on your credit score lessens. You want active reporting on your credit report to increase your credit score. Open, active accounts are weighed more heavily than closed accounts.
MyFICO estimates that the age of your accounts makes up 15 percent of your credit score. Once your car loan account is paid off, the age of your account history is lessened, which could adversely affect your credit score. You want your credit accounts to be open for a long time to positively impact your credit score.