Six Surefire Ways to Destroy Your Credit

Avoid these six moves that will kill your credit.

Keep your credit healthy by avoiding these six credit-destroying moves:

  • Making late payments or missing payments. Your payment history makes up 35 percent of your credit score, so if you don't make the minimum payment within 30 days of the due date, your score will take a hit. Don't pay within 60 days and you get hit again.
  • Maxing out your credit cards. Maintaining high credit card balances hurts your score. Keep your balances under 35 percent of their credit lines. So if you have a $1,000 credit card limit, keep the balance under $350.
  • Signing up for new credit cards. Whether you're being enticed with a free watch or retail discount, avoid opening multiple lines of credit in a short period of time.
  • Closing credit cards. The longer you've had your lines of credit, the better your score. So even if you're not using that 10-year-old credit card, it's in your best interest to keep it open.
  • Ignoring debts and fines. When you fail to pay back loans, miss rent payments or ignore parking tickets and the like, your information can be turned over to collection agencies, who have the power to hurt your credit.
  • Failing to monitor your credit report. Errors are not uncommon so make sure you get a free copy of your credit report each year from the three major credit reporting bureaus -- Equifax, TransUnion and Experian -- at www.annualcreditreport.com. Report mistakes and any fraudulent activity.
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