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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

3 Ways to Sabotage Your Credit Score

...Have you (or someone you know) ever wondered why when you think you are doing everything right regarding your credit, your credit score still takes a dive? I have.
Don't worry.  You are not alone.  I have been asked about this by numerous consumers and almost all of my clients.  The Credit Score is a calculation of credit performance behaviors that tell how risky you are to lend or provide a certain service to.

The quick way to remember the Anatomy of the Credit Score is S.P.A.D.E.  SPADE stands for 
  • Spending (30%) - how much  of your credit cards or revolving debt do you use? 
  • Payment History (35%) - how are you paying on all of your credit accounts? 
  • Age of credit (15%) - how long have you had experience with credit? 
  • Diversity (10%) - what experience do you have with different types of credit? 
  • Exposure (10%) - how many times do you allow your credit report to be viewed?
What makes the credit score calculation so complicated is that there are some things that we do, that seem to be good common sense actions, that actually reduce our credit scores.

Here are the Top 3 Ways to Sabotage Your Credit Score.

This seems like a wise and financially responsible thing to do right? RIGHT!!!  But, this action will actually have a negative impact on your credit score.  This affects the Spending category of the credit score, which is 30% of the score.  Credit scores rely heavily on utilization of revolving debt, like credit cards or lines of credit. So, if you close your credit cards, your utilization will be Zero. Not Good!  This is why you may see a dip in your credit score.

HELPFUL HINT:  Keep your credit card or line of credit balances at or less than 30% or the credit limit.

OK, Reality check ... You will not get a 10% on your purchase if you revolve a balance at 18% APR or higher.  The purchase will actually end up costing you more than the 10% you thought you saved.  Besides this misnomer, this action will have a negative impact on your credit score because it affects up to 3 categories of your credit score: Age (15%), Exposure (10%), and possibly Spending (30%)!  That's potentially 55% of the credit score negatively affected.

Here's quickly how this works: 1) You now have a new account reporting on your credit report, which affects the Age category; 2) That inquiry when they pulled your credit report to see if you qualified for the card affects the Exposure category; and 3) if the credit limit given is right above the amount you charged, this will affect the Spending category.

HELPFUL HINT: Don't believe the hype! Use a card you already have or better yet ... use budgeted CASH!

You know ... that small balance you didn't know you owed your doctor because your insurance didn't pay for it. Or that ticket you got in Atlanta. (Sorry ... venting).  Yeah, those.  Here's the thing, the amount doesn't matter when it comes to collection accounts.  So, whether the amount is $50 or $5,000, the negative hit is the same.

HELPFUL HINT: Check your credit report regularly or at least once a year. You can get a copy of your credit report for free at least once a year at

Financially True,

Tarra Jackson, Making Money Sexy!