There are many steps you can take to improve your credit score, but there’s something else you need to know. There are also mistakes that can drag down your score.
Here are five of the most common mistakes that you should try to avoid if you want to keep your credit score healthy.
1. Paying Your Bills Late
One of the biggest factors that affect your credit score is your payment history. If you consistently pay your bills on time, your credit score will reflect that. However, if you start missing payments or paying your bills late, your credit score can take a serious hit.
Even if you only miss one payment, it can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, and it can lower your score by as much as 100 points. To avoid this, set up automatic payments or reminders for yourself so that you never miss a due date.
2. Maxing Out Your Credit Cards
Another factor that affects your credit score is your credit utilization ratio. This is the amount of credit you are using compared to the amount of credit you have available to you. If you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit and you have a balance of $9,000, your credit utilization ratio is 90%, which is very high. This can hurt your credit score because it indicates that you are relying too heavily on credit.
As a general rule of thumb, try to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%. If you have to use your credit cards for a large purchase, try to pay it off as soon as possible.
3. Closing Credit Card Accounts
If you have a credit card that you no longer use, you might be tempted to close the account. However, this can actually hurt your credit score. When you close a credit card account, it can lower your available credit, which can increase your credit utilization ratio. It can also shorten the length of your credit history, which is another factor that affects your credit score.
If you have a credit card that you no longer use, it’s better to keep it open and use it once in a while for small purchases, and then pay off the balance right away.
4. Applying for Too Many Credit Cards
When you apply for a new credit card, the credit card company will do a hard inquiry on your credit report. This can lower your credit score by a few points. If you apply for too many credit cards in a short period of time, it can have a bigger impact on your score. This is because it can indicate that you are trying to take on too much credit at once, which can be seen as a red flag.
To avoid this, only apply for credit cards when you really need them, and try to space out your applications by at least six months.
5. Ignoring Errors on Your Credit Report
Finally, it’s important to regularly check your credit report for errors. Mistakes can happen, and if you don’t catch them, they can hurt your credit score. For example, if a credit card company reports a late payment that you actually made on time, it can lower your score.
You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year. Take advantage of this and check your report regularly for errors. If you do find an error, contact the credit bureau and the creditor to get it corrected.
In conclusion, maintaining a good credit score is crucial for your financial health. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can keep your score high and avoid any unpleasant surprises when you need to apply for a loan or credit in the future.
Remember to always pay your bills on time, keep your credit utilization ratio low, and be mindful of how you use and apply for credit. By doing so, you can set yourself up for a solid financial future and avoid any unnecessary stress or setbacks.
It’s important to note that improving your credit score takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if your score isn’t where you want it to be right away. By making smart financial decisions and avoiding these common mistakes, you can gradually improve your score over time.
In addition to avoiding these mistakes, there are also steps you can take to actively improve your credit score. For example, paying off your debts, keeping your credit card balances low, and diversifying your credit mix (such as having both credit cards and installment loans) can all help improve your score.
Get serious about your credit score and you’ll benefit well into the future!
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