Trying to maintain and achieve a great credit score is, in many ways, similar to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. While some people find it easy, others find it next to impossible.
Both goals require consistent effort, hard work, and no cheating. And when you finally achieve a credit score of 750, it doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax. Even the most credit-savvy of us can make a money management mistake—and that’s all it takes for your credit score to go tumbling back down.
And once your credit score falls below a certain point, it can be quite difficult to pick it back up. That’s why it isn’t surprising that around 68 million Americans had a poor credit score of below 601 in 2015.
Here are three mistakes you should avoid before they cause major damage to your credit score.
Avoiding Using Credit
Many consumers refuse to charge any purchases to their credit cards thinking that not having a credit history at all means having a good credit score. Well, this is a huge mistake. In order to gain the trust of credit companies, you need to prove to them that you can use credit responsibly.
Knowing how to calculate your credit score is the first step in improving it. Also, your credit score relies on your history of using credit. It isn’t a reflection of how much you earn or how much money you have in the bank.
Missing a Payment
Your payment history is more or less the most significant factor when it comes to determining your credit score. Therefore, even a single missed or late bill payment can cause a noticeable drop in your score.
Bills for major loans, mortgages, and credit cards are generally reported to national credit reporting agencies and will have a major influence on your credit score.
Not Checking Your Credit Report and Statements
Spotting a mistake on your credit card report may not be too big of a cause for concern. A small inaccurate charge on your monthly credit card statement is probably not going to have any impact on your credit score.
However, if an inaccurate charge increases your debt-to-credit ratio, it can negatively influence your credit score. While the inaccurate charge may just be a simple mistake from your issuer, it could also be a sign of identity theft or fraud.
Therefore, to avoid common credit mishaps, it’s important to check your credit reports and statements regularly.