Maybe you have just increased your credit limit on your credit cards or have been consistently paying your bills on time but have noticed no positive change in credit score. Your credit score consists of a few different variables, which all work together. Because of the various factors involved, although you may be taking some positive steps to repair your credit, other factors may act against those positive moves. Continue reading to learn more about the most common reasons that a credit score may be halted.
You May Have Negative Credit History
Adverse credit history can mean a few different things; here are some of the most common examples:
Late Payments or a Loan Default
Late payments or defaulting on a loan or credit card can hurt your credit scores. One missed payment or default may remain on your credit reports for up to seven years! This means that you will have to factor in this adverse payment history when trying to improve your credit in the future.
Although bankruptcy can mean debt relief, it can also mean a much lower credit score. It will remain on your credit reports for seven or ten years (depending on the type of bankruptcy filed).
A foreclosure occurs when you cannot pay your mortgage, and your bank/lender takes over the property. A foreclosure on your home can have a huge negative impact on your credit score and limit your ability to get a mortgage in the future. It will impact your credit reports for seven years.
A Collection Account
An account goes into collections when your lender/creditor uses a debt collection agency/debt collector to pursue owed funds. There are many ways to avoid this, something as simple as working with a lender for a new payment plan or making the last missed payments, etc.
However, if you are unable to work with your creditor, your account may go into collections. Collection accounts will significantly hurt your credit score, look bad to new lenders, and be a part of your credit history for about seven years!
And so, as you can see, having any of these things on your credit report will hurt your score and may work against your ability to fix it for around a decade’s worth of time.
Your Credit Usage Is Too High
Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of available credit compared to the amount of debt you have. When looking at the standard FICO score model, it accounts for 30% of your score—the second highest! Revolving credit accounts are usually the largest contributor to a high credit utilization rate, which can really stop your score from increasing even if you are doing other things to try and improve your credit. And so, try to pay off high credit card balances and loans faster. One easy way to do this is to make more than the minimum payment each month. If you lower your credit utilization rate, you will likely see a credit score increase anywhere from a few points to another credit score tier range!
Another thing to think about is that closing a revolving account after paying it off can significantly hurt your credit score. For example, let us say that you had a credit card balance of $5,000 that you paid off, and you closed the account. Although your debt went down by $5,000, you just decreased your available credit by $5,000, which will negate debt payoff or even harm your score.
Closing credit accounts is not what many people think about when it comes to hurting their credit score. Still, this is one of those actions that will harm your credit, without you even realizing it!
Your Hard Credit Inquiries May Be Too High
When a lender, creditor, or other third party checks your credit report, it is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard inquiries take down your credit score a few points each time they are conducted. And so, having too many credit applications in a short time can really bring down a credit score that you may have just improved on.
You Credit Score May Not Be Going Up Because You May Be a Victim of Identity Theft
Identity theft happens when personal information like your birth date, social security number, addresses, driver’s license number, etc., are stolen. Thieves can then use this sensitive information to borrow money, open up a bank account, access new credit accounts, and more, all under your name. They can do incredible damage to your score, even if you are taking steps to try and improve it. Unfortunately, one consequence of not checking your credit reports is not catching the early signs of identity theft. The good news is that there are ways to recover your credit after identity theft to get your finances back on track.
Your Credit Report May Have Errors or Inconsistencies
Another thing that can halt your credit score is errors or inconsistencies in your credit reports. You can get a credit report from each of the three credit bureaus, and you should check them at least once a year. Here are some common mistakes you should look out for:
- A paid-off account that is listed as active or the opposite.
- On-time payments are listed as delinquent payments.
- Debt listed multiple times.
- Total credit limit errors.
- Mixed up accounts (another consumer’s credit report may have mixed with your credit file, usually someone with a similar name to yours).
- Financial institutions or credit card companies listed on your reports you have no new accounts with.
If there are any errors in your credit reports, contact the corresponding credit bureaus to start the process of fixing credit report errors.
Your Credit Mix May Not Be Diverse Enough
Your credit mix impacts 10% of your credit score altogether. And it can really mean the difference between a good credit score and an excellent credit score. But what exactly does having a good credit mix mean? It means having various credit types, which can sound counterintuitive because of credit utilization. However, if done right, it can be helpful for your credit score. For example, if you had $100,000 debt that consists of a mortgage, credit cards, and a pay day loan, that would reflect much better on your credit scores than if it was all just credit card debt.
Your Credit Accounts Are Not Old Enough
The average age of your credit will definitely impact your credit scores. Older accounts will help lenders see that you can be responsible with credit for many years—another important reason for keeping revolving accounts open after paying them off. Just like your credit mix, the age of your accounts can make your good credit score excellent if you are doing everything else right!
Simple Things You Can Do To Improve a Bad Credit Score Fast
Let’s say that your credit score is in rough shape, and you want to try your best to improve it quickly. With a better understanding of how your credit score is impacted from the information above, you’ll be ready to tackle repairing your credit! Here are some easy, active ways you can try and improve your credit score quickly:
- Pay bills on time.
- Get an annual report from each credit bureau to learn more about your credit accounts and personal money habits.
- Get a cosigner for new loan options while you improve your credit score.
- Pay off debt and stop unnecessary spending.
- Limit hard credit checks, as multiple hard credit inquiries can hurt your score.
- Get your rent, utilities, and bills reported.
- Look into credit counseling.
- Get a credit builder loan or secured credit card.
- Consider refinancing your debt.