Credit scores—what do they mean anyway? Everyone knows that a higher credit score is desirable, It makes buying a car, purchasing a home or qualifying for a credit card much easier. Other than understanding that higher is better, what do you really know about credit scores? Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Learn more about these top five credit score myths, and find out the truth behind the number.

Myth #1: If you’ve paid off a debt, close the line of credit.

It may seem like this would be the best way to raise your credit score—pay off that pesky debt and get the credit off your record. However, there is a major flaw. The credit monitoring companies see closing an account as a red flag. In most cases, closing that account will make your credit score go down, not up. If you pay off a card, make an effort not to spend on the card, and in fact cut it up or put it in your safe deposit box, but don’t simply cancel the account.

Myth #2: Your employment impacts your credit standing.

While having a proven source of income can help you qualify for a loan, your employment history has absolutely no bearing on your credit score. If you are unemployed, self-employed or on disability but take pains to keep your credit in shape, you’ll find it’s no more difficult to obtain a high credit rating than someone who works a traditional 9-to-5 job.

Myth #3: Financing a home, car or other large purchase will make your score go down.

This is also false. Your score won’t go down just from a large purchase. In fact, these types of debts are often a good thing for your credit score. The type of debt you have impacts your score as much as the amount of debt. The fact that you qualified for this type of account shows that you are more creditworthy.

Myth #4: The older you are, the higher your score.

While having accounts open and in good standing for a long time will make your score go up, your actual age has no impact. An older person who has a spotty credit record is likely going to have a lower credit score than a young person who has been meticulous about paying bills on time and maintaining a good credit ratio.

Myth #5: Checking my score will lower my score.

There are two different types of credit inquiries on your record, and they impact the score in different ways. A soft check is what happens when you check your score, or when a company looks into your record to see if they want to extend a pre-approved offer your way. A hard check is when you actually apply for credit. Only these hard checks negatively impact your credit score. It is actually vital that you check your credit score regularly, to make certain you do not become the victim of an identity theft or error on your report.

Debunking these credit score myths is the first step in helping you understand your number. A lower-than-average credit score is certainly not something you want, but it is something you can repair. Patience and an effort towards repaying your debts will go a long way towards helping you get the score you need to obtain that home loan or low interest rate that you need.