6 Things You Didn’t Realize Could Affect Your Credit Score

Flickr / Charleston's TheDigitel

Don’t you just get so amped when you hear the words “credit score”? Do you whisper “yasss” as you sign onto Credit Karma? Literally never, you guys. But sadly, credit is one of those things that everyone has to maintain throughout adulthood. Love it or hate it, you’ve got to saddle up and just do it. So here are six credit-affecting factors that you may not have known about but should definitely keep an eye out for.

1. Closing A Credit Card

You probably already know that misusing a credit card, like spending past your limit or making inconsistent payments, could hurt your credit. Well, so can simply closing a credit card. The damage is temporary, but you’ll see a drop in your score that you’ll have to build up again. Bottom line: Make sure you really want to close that card. If you’re closing it to be responsible (claps for you), just take the temporary hit, close it and pay attention as your score recovers.

2. Overdue Library Books

Flickr / CCAC North Library

Wild, right?! If you have an account at a local library and you’re late in returning books, you know you’ll get slammed with fees. But some of you might still have a forgotten library book hanging out in your childhood bedroom closet somewhere. Those fees will pile up and could hurt your credit, no matter how small that book may seem. Don’t mess with library books, friends.

3. Not Using Your Credit Card

As if credit card usage couldn’t get any trickier, we’re about to throw you another curveball. The way you use your credit cards, even if you’re paying everything off each month, could hurt your credit score. Overusing it, of course, can hurt you, but so can not using it at all. You should be using between 20 and 30 percent of your credit each month to optimize your credit gains.

4. Having Only One Kind Of Credit

Let’s say you opened a credit card — maybe even two — and are using the right amount of credit and paying it all off each month. You’re in a good spot, but still not a great spot. To keep gaining credit points, you need credit diversity, which means, literally, different types of credit. Examples of credit aside from credit cards include auto loans, student loans, mortgages and rental history (like paying your apartment rent on time). If you don’t have a need for any of these, don’t sweat it, but when you do need it, jump on the opportunity.

5. Signing Onto A New Cell Phone Contract


Most of us have a cell phone (if you don’t, we’re… kind of impressed), and most of us are also signed on to a cell phone contract through our chosen carriers. Switching carriers or signing on to a different type of contract could, like the library books, temporarily lose you some credit points. The points will be fairly easy to build back up, but make sure you’re not taking the nose dive right before an event that requires a credit check, like an apartment or loan application.

6. Unpaid Parking Tickets

Hey, remember the library book and cell phone contract debacles? The same goes for unpaid parking tickets. The fees are small and look inconsequential, but your credit could be affected the longer you wait to pay them. Also, we’re pretty sure you can be arrested for ignoring unpaid tickets for a certain amount of time. So take care of your parking tickets to maintain both your credit and your freedom.