4 Things which look harmless but can hurt your score

A credit score affects one’s financial life in numerous ways. We all know that missing a credit card payment or loan EMIs will damage our credit profile. But there are some things that look harmless but can have a drastic negative impact on our score. Avoid these financial decisions to avoid unexpected surprises.

Co-signing a loan – If your friend or a family member is not able to qualify for a loan, you may not find any harm in co-signing a loan in order to help him. However one needs to understand the financial implications of such a decision. Co-signing a loan has almost the same effect on your credit score as signing a loan oneself. The co-signed loan account will appear on your credit report like any other debt. By co-signing a loan you become legally responsible for paying the loan EMIs if the primary borrower fails to do so. If the primary borrower makes a late payment or misses a payment altogether then it will affect your credit profile as well. Co-signed loans are considered while calculating your debt to income ratio even if they are being paid on time. It reduces the lender’s perspective of how much you can afford to pay back and hence reduces your ability to borrow funds. So if you are planning to apply for a home loan in near future it is better to avoid co-signing for others.  If you do co-sign a loan and take a risk of its implications it is imperative that you check your credit report and score regularly. Keep track of how the co-signed loan is affecting your credit score.

 

Closing old credit card accounts – Sometimes in an effort to clean up credit reports and take control of one’s finances, people close their old credit card accounts that they no longer use. But doing so affects the score negatively. Credit utilization ratio that is a major determiner of CIBIL score is calculated by dividing the total credit card balances by the total available credit limit. Closing old credit cards, reduces your available credit limit and hence increases your utilization levels. This has a major negative impact on the credit score. Length of the credit history also affects one’s score. Old accounts help in raising the average age of your accounts that is good for the credit score. Closing them will reduce the average age of accounts and lower your score.

Paying off an old charge offs- It may be hard to believe but yes, paying off old charge offs can actually reduce your score than increase it. Charge off accounts are those that you haven’t paid and the lender no longer expects any further payments on them. Payments on these accounts will reactivate them and make them appear more current. The collection agency may report it as a new debt than a written off debt. As new accounts have a greater weightage during the credit score calculation, paying written off accounts can bring a drop in your score.  Make sure you do not do any such mistakes before applying for a home loan. Even a few points of score can affect your home loan approval process.

Pushing credit limit- We all know that credit utilization has a major impact on our credit score. That is why it is advised to keep this utilization level below 30%. But what many don’t know is that paying off the balance in full each month may not necessarily mean that you have low utilization levels. If you are in a habit of maxing out your card often you may have high utilization levels that maybe affecting your score negatively. The balance that is used to calculate the credit score is your last statement balance. So if you have charged an amount close to your limit, you will have a high credit utilization ratio. Such over dependence on credit impacts your score negatively.

People who have been diligently paying off their debt obligations can also have a low credit score if they make some of the above mistakes. If you find yourself in such a situation do not despair. You can still apply for loans for bad credit where lenders do not just go by a theoretical evaluation of score. They weigh several other factors to determine your eligibility. So if you are an otherwise responsible borrower, but your credit score took a hit because of the above reasons, you can easily get approved for loans for bad credit.

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