Tackling bad credit can seem like a huge, never-ending task. But certain negative items hurting your credit score can be easily fixed. Here are five items that can hurt your credit score and a simple solution to fix them.
1. A zero balance can hurt your credit score.
Creditworthiness is a demonstration of how you manage your obligations over time. Once you pay a debt in its entirety you are no longer managing that debt. It may be a positive entry but it is no longer being managed. This may seem counterintuitive but it is true. Credit card accounts with zero balances may lower your credit scores.
Quick Fix: Always maintain a small balance on at least one of your credit card accounts. Even if it’s just lunch a few times a month, charge a small amount on your credit card to make sure a small balance is being reported to the credit bureaus and timely payments are being made.
2. Are your credit limits being reported?
Credit card companies should report your credit limit as well as account balance. But if you have a No Preset Spending Limit (NPSL) credit card, your balance may be reported as your limit. This can hurt your credit utilization numbers because it may look as though all of your available credit is being used. The balance to limit ratio is distorted.
For instance: Suppose your balance is $1,300; however, your credit limit is $12,000. If the creditor only reports your balance of $1,300 and the credit bureau plugs in your balance as your credit limit, then you have a high balance to limit ratio. Actually it looks as though you have maxed out your available credit and other creditors may view this as high risk. Your credit score will definitely suffer. Plus, if you are in the market for additional credit, you may be denied due to high utilization.
Quick Fix: Request your credit reports and make sure all of your creditors are reporting credit limits as well as account balances. If not, dispute the error with the credit bureau, informing them of your credit limit. You can also call the creditor and request they report a credit limit along with the account balance. No matter what a credit card issuer may tell you, there is some internal credit limit for your credit card account and you want that limit reported.
3. Balance Transfer
Do not transfer all your balances to one low interest rate card. You may get many offers for the best credit cards with low interest rates, but if you transfer all of your balances to the one card then you run the risk of increasing your balance to limit ratio. A high balance to limit ratio lowers your credit scores.
Quick Fix: Maintain your account balances at less than ten percent of your available credit limit in order to have good credit scores. Remember, a significant part of calculating credit scores is the amount owed. It constitutes thirty percent of your credit score.
4. Duplicate Negative and Collection Agency Accounts
Collection agencies routinely sell and transfer collection accounts. As junk debt buying continues to grow as a lucrative industry, the chances that more than one collection agency has attempted to collect on the exact same debt. Each of those collection agencies could very well be listed on your credit report for one single debt. The credit scoring will recognize each entry, even if it is a duplicate, as negative information. Original creditors may also be guilty of reporting one account twice on your credit reports.
Quick Fix: Dispute the duplicate negative items directly with the credit bureaus as inaccurate information. The duplicate entries will be deleted. Once deleted your credit score will improve instantly.
5. Outdated Negative Information
Negative information can remain on your credit reports up to 7 years while bankruptcies can remain up to 10 years. Negative information does not always automatically drop-off when the 7 year mark is reached.
Quick Fix: Get your credit reports and look at the negative items that should have been removed after 7 years or due to be removed within months of the 7 year mark. Dispute the items that have passed the 7 year mark. If you are within a few months of the 7 year mark, you can dispute those items and the credit bureaus will sometimes go ahead and remove them a little early.