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Dr. Don Taylor, CFA, Bankrate.com advice columnistCar loan doesn't show on credit report

Dear Dr. Don,
I recently went through my credit report and noticed that while there are accounts on there from when I first got a credit card, my first auto loan, which I got after that, is not showing? I paid it off early and always on time so why doesn't it show when the other stuff does? I thought good information stayed indefinitely?
-- Denise Denouement

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Dear Denise,
Positive information can stay on your credit report for much longer than negative information. Most negative information drops off your credit report after seven years, with a major exception being a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, which stays on your credit report for 10 long years.

Positive information on an open account remains on your credit report indefinitely, while positive information on paid accounts, such as a car loan, remains on your credit report for 10 years. A nice overview to the topic is provided by Maxine Sweet, Experian's vice president of public affairs, and author of the advice column, "Ask Max," on Experian's Web site.

Another possibility is that you're looking at the wrong credit report. Lenders don't necessarily report payment history to all of the three major credit bureaus. The lender decides on which bureau(s) it uses. It would be unusual for a national credit card not to report to all three, but a regional bank might not. If you just looked at one credit report, take a look at the other two. The Bankrate feature, "Free credit reports available to all," explains how often and when you can request free credit reports under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.

To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select one of these topics: "financing a home," "saving & investing" or "money."

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Oct. 3, 2006
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