How You Might Be Hurting Your Scores
There are so many things that come into play to obtain a healthy credit profile. The hardest part of navigating the credit world however, is knowing what advice is accurate and possibly stumbling a few times in an effort to get back on track. Many times consumers think they have a good grasp on it all and then over night something changes. Have you been in this situation? Does it seem almost impossible to impact your credit scores in a positive way? Here are 3 ways you may not have known you were actually damaging your credit score, rather than helping it.
In order to keep your credit scores at the best they can be, there are a few things you can do on your own. While it may seem that the score is out of your control, you can manipulate it more than you thought!
- Paying bills on time
- Keeping balances below 30%
- Only use credit cards for emergency or items you know you can immediately pay off
- If you have a high balance, request your credit card increase your credit limits to get back down to the 30% utilization limits
Make Payments Too Late or Too Early
Late payments can damage your credit scores significantly. Do you have your credit card payments set up on auto draft? For many people, the easiest thing to do is set everything up automatically after a pay period or a time when all other bills come out of their bank accounts. This is not a negative way to go about paying bills, but you can continue to work smarter and not harder in an effort to see an increase.
The credit card company that you are most likely using does not always report to the bureaus after you have made a payment. Knowing the cycle period on your accounts is vital. The credit card companies typically update a report once a month. If you want your credit card to look the best it can when you are applying for a loan and need your scores to look the best, pay the statement in full before the statement closing date. This will report to the bureaus as a zero balance which in turn, makes your scores look great because your utilization is down.
Please note: You can ask that your credit card company let you know when they report to the bureaus so you can be informed and make your payments accordingly.
Closing Cards Too Soon
Closing unused credit cards out seems to be a trend that many consumers follow. When you do this to a credit card with great payment history and low balances and several years on the length of history, you actually damage your scores.
Do you know why that is?
When you close out a credit card with a low to no balance on it with a very high utilization ratio, you are telling FICO that your utilization amounts just went up significantly. Once the card is closed, it is not considered by FICO any longer. The longer the life on the credit card the better. If you have no use for the credit card, try to use it for a small purchase every 60-90 days.
Large Credit Card Balances
Your debts are heavily weighed by FICO and are a very large portion of the scoring model. If you have credit cards with large balances that you make payments on, on time that is great. However, the best way to really increase your credit scores is begin to pay down the balances on the cards as much and as soon as possible rather than the minimum payment.
If you have $20,000 in available credit and you have a $10,000 balance, your sitting at 50% of the utilization ratio which is not doing well for your credit scores. Just because you have a credit limit of $20,000, does not mean you want to push the balances out as far as you can to that limit. If you can, pay down the card as much as possible, rather than minimum payments on it. Once interest starts to kick in, you will want to start working that payment down quickly.
If you start to make a change in these three areas of practice, you will start to notice a shift in your scores. Being smarter about your debt and understanding how FICO is working for, or against you will help you as you combat the credit world. Do you have questions about your credit report? If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys or credit advisors and complete a free consultation please give us a call at 1-800-994-3070 we would be happy to help.
A Note From The Author: The opinions you read here come from our editorial team. Our content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when we initially post it.
Article by Breana Washington
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