Credit Score Tips

Even if you pay all your bills on time, you could be bringing your credit score down without realizing it!

The main factors considered in creating your credit score are whether you pay your credit cards and bills on time, but some factors that can shave points from your score are not as obvious and not as well known. They include:

  • Ordering several new credit card accounts in a short period of time. Maybe you’re just taking advantage of low-interest offers, but to credit scorers, it looks bad.
  • Transferring a balance to a new card, then closing the old card account. It’s OK to transfer the balance, but keep the old account open. If you close it, you won’t have as much total credit, and your credit-utilization ratio will increase. The amount of debt you have is calculated for balances on individual accounts, as well as your overall credit limit.
  • Charging a lot to a department store credit card. Say you have a $4,000 credit limit. You are buying new furniture, so you charge $3,500. Before that, you only owed $100 on your store card. Now, you owe $3,600 on a $4,000 card, which means available credit on that account will be way down. It’s not good for your credit score. And the store charges high interest rates. Here’s a better solution. Get a line of credit at your credit union or bank and charge the furniture on that.

Other situations you might think are not related to your credit score include library book fines, parking tickets, back rents, medical bills and any other fees or charges you put off paying. In time, they will be turned over to a collection agency. Even after you pay them, the collection will stay on your credit report for seven years.