Here are some of the more common ways to sink your credit score:
Different actions will impact your score in different ways, and those ways can change based on your current score.
Maxing out a credit card:
It does not matter if you leave the bill unpaid or pay it back immediately: maxing out a credit card will drop your credit score. This is because maxing out a card is a sign that you are not doing well financially. Depending on the situation, you could lose anywhere from 10 to 45 points from your score this way. This is not that big of a drop, but it is still worthwhile to check your credit limit often so that you do not exceed it.
Missing a payment cycle:
Being late a few days is not as big of a deal as missing a whole payment cycle. Missing a month of payments can drop your score from 60 to 110 points. Along these same lines, be careful when you use a credit collection agency to try to repay your debt. It is alright to deal with collection agencies, but you need to be careful about the repayment plan. If your debt mounts over several months, you might be penalized for missing payment cycles.
Foreclosures are a painful experience. When you lose your property to a foreclosure, it can mean a credit score dip of 85 to 160 points. Going through a foreclosure means that mortgage lenders are less likely to lend to you for up to four years. Once you rebuild your credit, it may be easier to get another mortgage.
Bankruptcy cuts into your score the hardest. Filing for any type of bankruptcy could lower your score from 130 to 240 points. However, do not discount bankruptcy just because of the hit to your credit score. A credit score can always be rebuilt. If you find that you cannot pay bills and that the debt is piling up, chances are your credit rating is pretty low anyway. Bankruptcy is not meant to be a punishment, but instead a bastion to help you get back on your feet.
Rebuilding your credit:
Here are some methods to consider when you begin to rebuild your credit:
Pay your bills on time- This is the best way to rebuild your credit. Your credit score is a measurement of your creditworthiness, so it only makes sense that paying your bill you demonstrate your creditworthiness and raise your score.
Reduce your reliance on credit cards- If you are not using your credit cards for everything then it shows that you are less likely to overspend and it shows that you are not reliant on your credit.
Have a mix of credit forms- Mortgages, personal loans, auto loans, credit cards, and lines of credit are all good to have, if you can maintain them. Having and maintaining these various credit lines shows your reliability.
Rebuilding your credit: (con't)
Avoid closing accounts- If you close your credit accounts, it can lower your score because it sends signals that you cannot handle the credit account anymore. Do your best to maintain a healthy balance, or have no debt on the card at all if you can manage it.
Do not apply for new credit accounts, or only sparingly open a new one- If you open too many accounts, it sends signals that you cannot make due with the amount you have and that you are not reliable with the credit you have.