Getting a loan or a new line of credit is usually subject to a 3 digit-number known as the credit score. And although it is not the only indicator used by banks and other lenders, your score weighs heavily on your financial health. So, what are the common mistakes that lead to lower credit score and how can you avoid them?
1. Missing or Delaying Payments
Since your credit score is an overview of your financial undertakings up to the point of applying for a loan, how you handle existing debt matters. Delays or late payments on other loans or credit card installments will affect your score negatively.
Up to 35% of your credit score is determined by your credit history. This calls for timely payments, and where that is not possible, negotiate with your lender for fairer terms to ensure continued payments. Luckily, the moment you restart regular payments, your score starts to improve.
2. Over Utilizing Your Credit
As earlier noted, you need to pay your debts on time for your credit score to stay high, but the amount of credit you use matters. Known as credit utilization rate, this is the ratio of your credit card debts divided by the amount of credit that is available to you.
The ratio is expressed as a percentage and the higher it is, the worse your credit score gets. Of your total credit score, 20% is determined by this ratio.
Tip: Whenever possible, only use up to 30% of your credit to ensure that your credit utilization ratio remains low.
3. Having no Credit Lines
As a follow-up on the second mistake, you may think that having zero lines of credit will make your score high. Unfortunately, that would be unwise. Remember that your credit score is derived from your credit history. Without any history to look at, there will be less information for accurate analysis and your score will be low.
4. Having Errors in Your Credit Report
Errors, whether clerical or fraudulent, are some of the common mistakes that lead to a lower credit score. Avoid such mistakes by checking your credit report regularly and disputing any errors. On the upside, credit reporting bureaus are obligated to furnish you with a free report annually.
Also, unlike when a lender requests your credit report which can affect your score adversely, checking your own report has zero effect on your score. Besides, monitoring the report helps you to keep track of any payment that you might have missed. So, check your report periodically and ensure that you can account for all entries.
5. Closing Your Credit Facilities
After you have paid off a credit card or loan, what comes next? Choosing to close the credit line is a huge mistake. Essentially, you will be erasing a good history that speaks to your ability to repay debts. Particularly, if you were repaying your monthly debt installments on time, then that history needs to be on your report.
Also, closing credit cards lowers the average age of your accounts, which in turn lowers your credit score. Known as credit age, this is the average time that your accounts have been active, and the higher it is, the better your credit score will be.
15% of your FICO credit score is based on the length of your credit history.
A low credit score can deny you anything from a mortgage to a new credit card. A bad score also means high rates and other stringent terms on a new loan. You can keep your credit score from dropping by avoiding all of the above common financial mistakes.
For credit repair and financial advice, contact Credit Absolute for a free consultation.