The 5 Easiest Ways To Ruin Your Credit Rating

By: Jasonlancaster
It's tough to keep a good credit rating, and even the best of us can accidentally damage our score. There are a myriad of credit risks everywhere, from credit cards, home equity and auto loans, to a dubious health insurance system, and it's easy to make a mistake somewhere along the line. These are the top 5 mistakes, from easiest to hardest, that you might be making to damage your credit score:

1. Closing your account:

Closing your credit card as soon as it's paid off is the easiest way you're probably ruining your credit. A closed account decreases your "percentage of credit available", one of the most important factors in calculating credit score. Taking away from this percentage by closing an account can drop your credit score by as much as 100 points in just 2 months. Keep your credit rating high by keeping as much available credit as possible, and never cancel a card unless it has an annual fee. And make sure you use your card at least once a year to make an affordable purchase - this keeps your account active and contributing to your available credit.

2. Maxing out your credit cards:

Banks like to see credit cards with high limits and minimal balances. These "open" cards are a sign of a financially responsible borrower they're likely to get their money back from. A maxed-out card, on the other hand, creates doubt about whether the card holder can afford their purchases, and leads to lowered credit scores. Applying for new credit cards and requesting higher limits on existing cards can help to fix this problem.

3. Medical Debt Collections

Imagine this scenario: your doctor sends you a bill and you send it to your insurance company, thinking your policy covers it. Turns out, it doesn't, and the company doesn't pay your bill. So the doctor's office turns the unpaid debt over to collections, wreaking havoc on your credit score. Sound scary? It's a lot more common than you might think! Make sure this doesn't happen to you by paying close attention to all your bills, and double-checking with both your doctor's office and health insurance company to make sure every bill is paid. Sure, it might take some time, but the 50 points you'll save on your credit rating will be worth it.

4. Co-signing Gone Wrong

You've probably had family or friends ask you to co-sign a loan for them, and it might sound like a great idea. After all, why not help out someone you care about? But co-signing a loan is dangerous territory, credit-wise. You assume equal responsibility for the debt, and if the other person doesn't pay up, you're expected to. And if your co-signer files for bankruptcy, that'll show up on your credit report, even if you don't file anything yourself. Even if you can prove that the unpaid bills are your co-signer's fault, your credit rating will still suffer. Don't co-sign for anything, no matter how close the friend, unless you can afford to pay it yourself.

5. Late payments:

Can't remember to pay your bills? It could be the only thing keeping you from perfect credit! There are tons of people out there who do everything else right, but have poor credit simply because they pay their bills late. To make sure your bills are paid on time, every time, visit your bank and ask about an automatic bill payment program. Once you enrol in this, your bank will automatically send a payment to your creditor each month from your account. This will improve your credit by making sure you're never late with a payment again, and can save you money by preventing late fees!
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