Having a poor credit score can keep you from being fully invested in creating a better financial future for yourself. With so many myths revolved around bad credit, you might begin to think that raising your score is impossible, but don’t let false information keep you from financial freedom. Here are 5 major myths about bad credit debunked:

Myth 1: Checking your credit will lower your score.

Some people are wary of ever checking their credit because they think it will bring down their score. This myth probably evolved from a lack of understanding between a hard inquiry about your credit and a soft inquiry. Checking your credit with one of the three major credit bureaus counts as a soft inquiry and doesn’t affect your credit score, so it’s a good idea to monitor this annually. A hard inquiry occurs when a third party checks your credit report, and this could cause a small decrease in your score.

Myth 2: You can’t get a credit card with bad credit.

Of course, good credit will only help you when trying to get approved for a credit card, but that doesn’t mean having bad credit makes it impossible to qualify. Using a credit card the right way can actually be a great first step in helping you raise your score. The Milestone® Gold MasterCard®, for instance, is designed to help consumers rebuild poor credit. Because it’s an unsecured card, you don’t need a security deposit, and because Milestone® does report to the three major credit bureaus, correctly using the card could help you repair your score.

Myth 3: Closing out credit cards will improve your score.

This is an all too common myth that oftentimes has people, with credit cards in hand, rushing to their nearest shredder. However, your debt utilization ratio is one of the five major factors in determining your credit score. Closing out a credit card causes your available credit to decrease and your debt utilization ratio to increase. This, in turn, lowers your credit score because you’re deemed more of a risk by lenders.

Myth 4: Being a cosigner bears no risk.

When you cosign for someone else’s new line of credit, you need to remember that their financial activity can have a significant impact on your credit score. If they miss a payment or exceed their limit, both of your scores can drop. Only cosign for someone that you absolutely trust, and make sure to have a serious discussion about responsibilities.

Myth 5: Only credit repair agencies can improve your credit.

You may come across an agency that promises, for a fee, to remove negative items from your credit report. However, the only way to get items removed is if they are incorrect or outdated, and while a credit repair agency can help you remove the outdated or incorrect information, this is also something you can dispute on your own for free!