Sneaky ways you're ruining your credit score

Getty ImagesGetty ImagesThe most obvious way to blow your credit score is to make a late payment. Even if your credit score is solid, a single missed payment could cost you as much as 100 points, say many financial advisers. According to the Fair Isaac, the company that calculates your FICO score, payment history accounts for 35 percent of your total score. And that credit score will help determine what kind of rates you can score when applying for home or car loans. So first things first: Figure out your credit score.

Your FICO score, a number between 300 and 850, is based on five criteria:

  • payment history
  • amounts owed
  • length of credit history
  • new credit
  • types of credit used

You can find out yours at myfico.com. According to Experian National Score Index, one of the major credit bureau companies, the average credit score in America is currently 692. Those with scores well above 700 will qualify for the best interest rates out there.

But even if you pay your bills on time religiously, your credit score may be endangered. Here are ways charge card sins could cost you some precious credit score points.

1. Not asking for what you want
Don't accept everything your credit card company offers as written in stone. If you don't want that credit line increase, ask them to reduce it back to your old one. Had one late payment? If your record is squeaky clean, ask them nicely to remove the blemish from your credit history (which, remember, could cost you up to 100 points on your credit score). They could say no, but they could very well say yes because they value you as a customer. Ask anyway. Your credit score will thank you.

2. Accepting credit line increases
Being the responsible, on-time bill-payer that you are, your credit card company rewards you by upping your credit line. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but remember how much you can afford to reasonably charge. Resist the urge to spend more or risk being unable to meet your new minimum payments.

3. Consolidating your accounts
So you're considering transferring all your credit card balances to one card so you're only dealing with one bill every month. It sounds sensible, right? A big no-no, according to the keepers of the credit score. Think of it this way: One big balance looks a whole lot worse than multiple low balances. Appearances are everything.

Read More Charge Card Sins here
By Jihan Thompson, Career and Money Blogger - Marie Claire


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