Credit Myth #2: You Have To Be Really Irresponsible To Damage Your Score
Building good credit can take years of diligent spending behavior and credit monitoring. However, damage to your credit can happen in the blink of an eye. All it takes is one missed payment cause your score to drop by up to 110 points. If your credit score is lower than you’d like it to be, and if you fear it makes you look "irresponsible,” don’t be too hard on yourself. There are plenty of reasons your score may fall, none of which have anything to do with your character.
Forgetting To Make a Payment
Missing payments is one of the easiest and quickest ways to damage your credit score. Even the most responsible spenders miss payments here and there. Whether you forget to make a payment or simply cannot afford to make it one month due to unforeseen financial difficulties, a late payment can ding your credit score by between 90 and 110 points.
Opening Too Many Cards at Once
Your credit is stellar and, as a result, creditors want to retain you as a customer. What do they do? They send you enticing offers you just can’t refuse; you apply for three, four or even five credit cards at a time. Though not irresponsible, your overzealous behavior can hurt your score by five to 10 points per credit application.
Opening a Card Before You’re Ready
You’re fresh out of college and receive your first credit card offer. You feel flattered and a bit excited—the world of credit poses many possibilities. You open an account before you’ve mastered all the other financial basics that come with being an adult, including managing your checking account without over-drafting, managing your money responsibly and meeting deadlines without being reminded. Without a handle on basic financial skills, you risk ruining your credit before you really even get a chance to use it.
It’s easy for even the most responsible cardholders to
damage their credit. If you recently noticed a drop in your credit score, don’t
take it personally. However, review your report to figure out what you did
wrong so you can learn how to prevent further damage.