You look into your credit report and see that your score is not as high as you had expected. What could have gone wrong? Although you think you may have done everything right, some seemingly harmless actions could negatively affect your credit.
Paying off credit card debt & closing accounts — Paying off credit card balances is always a good idea, but in some situations closing them after your payment has been made can negatively affect your credit score. Fifteen percent of your credit score is determined by the length of time that accounts have been established so if you must cancel a card, be sure it is one with a short credit history. Also, be sure to keep a good mix of credit (at least 1-2 major credit cards) as that can account for 10% of your score.
Maxing out cards & paying them off after the next statement — Although you paid off your balance, your statement will still reflect the status of your card. Your credit report will show that you have maxed out your card even if you pay the full balance the day after it your statement posts. To avoid this, be sure to pay any high balances off before the next statement date. A best practice for keeping your credit score in tact is to keep balances below 30% of your available credit.
Making payments a day late — Unfortunately, a day late is a day late. Your credit report will not state how many days late your payment was so you will still receive a 30-day late penalty. Many credit card companies may also charge a late payment penalty or increase interest rates for being late on your payments. To avoid penalties, be sure to schedule monthly payments for at least the minimum payment due. This will keep you in good standing until you have the opportunity to make a larger payment or pay off the balance.
Paying off old collections — This may seem to be a good thing to do, but it may actually harm more than help. Credit scoring models lend more weight to recent activity so making this a current activity on your credit report may hurt your score. If you do plan on paying off old accounts, make sure that all agreements have been signed & the creditor will be giving you a letter of deletion.
There are always steps that can be taken to improve low credit scores. If you have any questions about credit scoring and how it will affect you during the mortgage process, contact one of our Loan Originators. They will be happy to help you get on track and on the road to homeownership!