7 Surprising Things That Affect Your Credit Score
It may be obvious that missing a credit card payment will affect your credit score, but did you know that renting a car could affect your credit? Or that your library habits could too? Here are a handful of factors you might not realize impact your credit score.
1. PAYING YOUR RENT LATE
Your rent payments typically aren’t part of your credit report, but if you make a habit of missing payments, your landlord can follow a few simple steps and pay a fee to report your delinquency. Experts say these negative marks can stay on your record for up to seven years. While the missed payment might not hurt your actual score, it can reflect negatively on your credit history and make it tough to apply for a rental down the road.
2. CANCELLING A CREDIT CARD
You’ve finally paid off your credit card—great job! Now you’re ready to close it so you never have to think about it again … not so fast. Because your credit history—including the age of your accounts and how long it’s been since you’ve used specific accounts—makes up 15 percent of your score, cancelling a card can have a negative impact. Closing an account kills some of that history and your score can indeed take a hit.
3. NOT PAYING LIBRARY FINES
You may think that tiny library fine is harmless enough, but you might as well pay it and nip any potential headaches in the bud. An unpaid fine can be sent to a collection agency, and at that point, the agency has the right to report the balance to any of the three major credit bureaus. The same goes for parking tickets—experts say an unpaid parking ticket can ding your score up to 100 points. Any collection agency activity on your account can lead to a hit between 45 and 125 points.
4. RENTING A CAR
When you rent a car, you typically have to pay a deposit. If you use your debit card rather than a major credit card, some rental companies will actually pull your report. This hard credit check, as it’s called, can ding your score.
5. PUSHING YOUR CREDIT LIMIT
Your “debt utilization ratio” makes up a large percentage of your credit score. In a nutshell, this is your ratio of used credit to available credit. The lower the ratio, the higher your score. To keep this ratio low, you want to use as little of your credit limit as possible. So when you maximize that limit, your ratio increases and your score goes down. Experts suggest keeping your credit usage below 30 percent.
6. MOVING YOUR DEBT TO A SINGLE CREDIT CARD
It can be tough to keep up with payments on multiple credit cards, so some people opt to move all of their debt to a single card. And some cards offer an incentive for doing this, with no balance transfers and a 0 percent interest introductory offer. Just keep in mind, this can negatively affect your score because your score drops whenever you carry a high balance on a single card.
7. APPLYING FOR TOO MANY LINES OF CREDIT
Whether it’s a mortgage, car loan, or store credit card, any time you apply for a line of credit, the lender pulls your report. Too many of these hard pulls at once can raise a red flag on your score. Luckily, the credit reporting agencies know that when you’re shopping around for mortgage rates, for example, a number of pulls may be inevitable. To help you out, they will count multiple inquiries within a 30-day period as a single pull.