What Can Cause Damage to Your Credit?

Factors contributing to someone's credit score...

Factors contributing to someone’s credit score, for Credit score (United States). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Credit scores move up and down as new financial data is collected by the credit bureaus. Many factors can cause a credit score to rise or fall, but most people don’t have a clue what they are. Understanding what affects credit can help keep your number in a good score range, where it should be. But, even a bad score can recover more quickly than most people realize, even after a bankruptcy or default. Here are some factors that can help you understand why credit moves up or down:

Late Payments

About 30% of your score is made up from your payment history. This is comprised from things like credit card bills, auto loan payments, personal loans, and mortgages. At this time, bills like utilities or rent are not factored into your score, unless they are sent to a collection agency. If you are late to pay your credit card bill, it will show up on your credit file. One late payment will probably not have much of an effect, but a history of this over time can drop your score. It is very important to keep bill payment current as a courtesy to creditors and the benefit of your own financial history.

Credit Inquiries

One of the most misunderstood factors that can cause a credit score to drop are “credit inquiries”. An inquiry takes place anytime your credit is checked. This makes up 10% of your total score. What most people don’t know is that there are two different types of credit inquiries, “hard inquiries” and “soft inquires”. Only hard inquiries affect credit and happen when you apply for a new credit card, loan, or mortgage. Soft inquiries on the other hand happen when someone like an employer, landlord, or yourself check your credit report. These are not factored into your credit score at all. Hard inquiries are a necessary part of applying for a loan or credit, so an occasional inquiry will not cause damage. It can only cause problems if there are many hard inquiries in a short period of time. This can be a signal to creditors that you are in financial trouble and are desperately seeking cash.

Credit to Debt Ratio

Your total amount of available credit compared to the amount of credit you use each month, makes up your credit-to-debt ratio. FICO suggests that you use no more than 30% of your available credit before paying off your balance each month. For example if you have $10,000 of available credit spread across 3 different credit cards, the optimal amount to charge would be $3000 or less each month. Maxing out your credit cards can cause your score to drop even if you pay them off completely each month.

Age of Your Credit History

The length of time you have had an open credit account is a major factor of your credit score. It can help to open a credit card when you are younger by getting a co-signer. If you are the parent of a teenager, it may be helpful to open a credit card in their name, but only allow them to use it for emergencies. Having an open credit card in good standing for a long period of time can help build this history. The length of time that you have had credit makes up about 15% of your score.

Different Types of Credit

The last major factor that makes up about 10% of your score comes from the different types of credit that you use. These credit types include revolving, installment, and mortgage. The ability of an individual to successfully handle all of these credit types can show that they are financially well-rounded. This makes up about 10% of the total credit score.

Ross is an investor and website owner.

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    1. Excellent post about credit! You would love my post tomorrow.. I specify how I am the credit king lol. Anyways. I thank you for sharing!


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