Your credit score is important for all financial matters. When you want to get a credit card, finance a car, or take out a home equity loan, your lender will always consider your credit score before agreeing to a loan. And the terms of that loan will also depend on your credit score. If your credit score is near perfect, you may find that your lender will charge much less for closing costs, for instance. Finally, some employers are now checking prospective employees’ credit scores before finalizing job offers. Your credit score means a lot, so it’s crucial that you know how to maintain a positive one. In this post, we explore ways that you may be hurting your credit score.
Late payments are the most common factor that hurts people’s scores. It’s so easy to miss a payment if your life is busy, and paying a little late may seem harmless. However, it has a disproportionate impact on your credit score. Your credit report indicates any payments that are late, and the length of time. Even one 30-day late payment can have a substantial negative effect. If at all possible, set up direct payments for your credit card payments and other monthly obligations. That way, you won’t unintentionally miss a payment due.
Balance to Credit Ratio
Your balance-to-limit ratio is also called your credit utilization. Here is a simple way to calculate it: add up separately all of your credit card balances and then all of the limits on your credit cards. Then divide the total balances by the total limits. This is your balance-to-limit ratio. As a general rule, a lower ratio means a better credit score. As a rule, you should try to keep your credit card utilization rate below 30%. However, it is also a bad idea to completely pay off your credit cards every month. You could be hurting your credit score without realizing it, even if you never make any late payments on those accounts. It’s a bit of a tightrope to walk; doing the calculation twice a year should keep you in the golden zone.
Each time a lender requests your credit reports, a hard inquiry is recorded in your credit file. These inquiries stay in your file for up to two years. A hard credit pull can cause your score to go down slightly for a short period. Lenders look at the number of hard pulls to gauge how much new credit you are requesting. Too many inquiries in a short period of time can signal that you are potentially slipping toward financial problems by suddenly taking on a lot of new debt. Be aware when applying for new loans, and do not crowd applications together.
Timing of Closing Credit Card Accounts
Closing a credit card account can cause your overall balance to credit ratio to increase, which is a sign of risk. As a result, your credit scores may drop. Generally, a brief dip in your credit score won’t matter one way or the other, but If you are planning to make a major purchase (like a house or a car) in the next three to six months, it’s better to forego closing any open credit card accounts.
Beware of Cosigning Loans
You probably know that when you cosign for a loan, you are promising that if the person you are cosigning for doesn’t pay the debt, you will. What you may not know is that the loan will appear on both of your credit reports along with the payment history. If the primary debtor doesn’t pay their loan on time, that late payment will hurt your credit too.
These are some of the ways that you may be hurting your credit scores without really knowing it. Keeping in mind the tips above and maintaining an awareness of your financial situation should help you attain and keep a good credit score. Of course if you default on your financial obligations that will damage your credit score as well. For more advice particular to your personal situation, contact the professionals at Burr Law.