Every transaction on your credit card affects your credit score. One of the factors that affects it is not paying your credit card dues on time. But, did you know applying for a new card or closing an old account can also negatively affect your score? Read on to understand how such common credit card habits can hurt your score:
● Use Credit Card to Create Credit History:
You can use credit cards not only to make purchases but also to establish a good credit history. If you have never availed a loan or used a credit card, you won’t have a credit score. Your credit report will give a score of -1 or NH (no hit). This means that lenders cannot determine your credit behaviour. Using a credit card is one of the simplest ways to start your credit history.The caveat is to build a good history. Pay off all your credit card dues on time every month to establish yourself as a responsible borrower.
● Delay in Credit Card Payments:
Your payment history is the most influential factor of your credit report. It makes up 35% of your credit score. If you are in the habit of missing out on paying your card dues, then you may be damaging your score. Moreover, any delays in payment are reported to credit bureaus like CRIF. To avoid the repercussions of late payments, and boost your credit score, get into the habit of paying your credit card dues fully every month.
Related Read: An Infographic on Ways To Maintain Your Credit Score
● Credit Utilization Ratio:
It is an indicator of the amount you have used out of the credit limit available to you. If you haven’t used your credit card and there is no balance, your credit utilization would be counted as zero. If you are applying for a loan, you need to carry some balance on your card. As a rule of thumb, you should maintain a credit utilization ratio of 30-40%. Anything higher than this may cause a dip in your credit score as lenders can attribute this as credit hungry behaviour. If you think you can efficiently manage your credit card dues, you can ask your bank to give you a higher credit limit on your existing card. Or, you can even apply for a new card with a higher limit. But, ensure that you don’t exceed your credit limit even if you are tempted to spend more.
● Applying for a New Credit Card:
Every time you apply for a new card, a hard enquiry is initiated on your credit report. This temporarily drops your credit score. Your score will recover after a few regular payments. Applying for multiple credit lines like credit cards or loans at the same time can hamper your score. Hence it’s always advisable to keep your credit card applications to a minimum. Apply only when it is really required. Whenever you apply for a credit card, draw a comparison between 2-3 cards. Based on your current credit score, pick the one that suits you the best. For example, if you shop a lot, then look for a card that offers good cashback. Similarly, if you travel constantly, a credit card that offers good air miles can be your choice.
● Closing a Credit Card Account or Discontinuing a Credit Card:
As your scores get affected while opening a new account, similarly, discontinuing an old credit card may hit your credit score badly. This is because credit history makes up to 15% of your total score. If you close an account that has been there for a long time, you are erasing all your credit life. Credit history is an important factor in your credit score.
Additionally, as you no longer have access to the credit limit of your card you closed, your credit utilization ratio will also drastically drop.So, make a wise decision before closing any old credit card. Instead of closing it, you may simply lower the usage of the card or keep it safe. This will not hamper your score. If you have multiple cards, you can close the most recent one.
To conclude, your credit card and other loans have a great impact on your credit score. Make sure you stick to the credit limit of up to 30-40% and adopt the aforementioned credit habits. If you haven’t checked your scores lately, make sure you review your credit report with CRIF.