Behaviors that can erode your credit score

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Your credit score is used for purposes other than approving loan applications. Your score can be used to gauge how much you will pay for auto and home insurance; it may even affect your job prospects.

Therefore, you should try to get and keep your score as high as possible, even if you don’t intend to borrow money. Don’t assume that paying your bills on time is enough to secure good credit. These common mistakes can lower your credit score.

* Never incur debt. Not having a credit history is almost as bad as having a bad history because lenders have no way of judging how you would handle a loan.

* Shopping too much on loan rates. Too many inquiries can hurt your credit score. Typically, six inquiries within six months will involve a lender.

* Transfer of credit card balances. This tactic can lower your credit score.

* Missing due date. If a payment is even one day late, it is late. Even one late payment can lower your score.

* Co-signing for a loan. Errors from the primary borrower will show up on both signatories’ credit reports and hurt your score.

Interestingly, one action to avoid is closing credit card accounts that you no longer use. Such a move will likely lower your score. In particular, you should not close cards that you have had for a long time. They may represent the oldest credit you have, so removing them from your file would shorten your credit history, causing your credit score to plummet.

If you have balances on other credit cards, canceling cards you don’t use could also hurt you. This would increase your outstanding debt, as a percentage of available credit, thereby lowering your score.

The best strategy? Use each of your cards at a certain time of the year. Then pay the balance in full and on time.

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