5 Ways to Ruin your Credit Score

You’ve got the basics covered, you know how to build a good credit score, but how do you keep that three-digit number high?

The LITB team hit the Internet to understand some of the ways you can take your credit score from sky high to rock bottom:

Our top 5 tips for maintaining your credit score:

Make late paymentsA woman browses in a store - overspending can impact your credit score

It goes without saying that late payments negatively impact  your credit score. But what if you go back to your home country for a month and forget to pay an installment on your car loan? Is there a way out? Well… maybe. Get in touch with the loan company and ask them not to report the late payment to the credit-reporting agency. They’re not obliged to help you, but if it truly is a one off, they may be willing to negotiate.

Leave errors on your credit report

A report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that 1 in 5 Americans has a mistake on their credit report. The frustrating thing is that these can affect your credit score. So keep an eye on your credit report and if you do find an error, make sure you try and get it corrected. It’s not a fun way to spend a Wednesday morning, but it could mean a lot for your financial health. The FTC also offers some helpful advice on how to get an error fixed.  

Max out your cards

If you spend to the limit of your credit cards each month it’s an indication to the credit bureau that you’re living at the edge of your means. They may think this is a sign you’ll have trouble paying bills in the future, so try not to use more than a third of the credit available to you on any given card. There’s a technical term for how much of your available credit you spend: credit utilization ratio. It is one of the most important factors credit scoring models use to calculate your credit score.

A woman holds a coffee, a cell phone, and bags of shopping - overspending can impact your credit scoreApply for 5 credit cards at once

While having more than one credit card can improve your score, applying for lots of cards at once can have a negative impact. So start with one card and build slowly. And don’t open credit accounts you don’t intend to use. You need to spend something on your cards each month to make them count.

Become a victim of identity theft

Identity theft is a big problem in the US and it can have a significant impact on your credit report. Question any unexplained purchases on your credit card and keep an eye on your credit score. An unexpected dip may indicate that someone’s stolen your identity. The FTC offers helpful advice on what to do if you discover someone’s stolen your information.

If you do damage your credit score, don’t panic! There are lots of things you can do to repair it. And because maintaining a credit score is such an important part of financial health in the United States, the Internet is brimming with helpful information and advice to help you get back on top.

Credit Score 101

Credit Q&A: Julien Christiaens, Bank of the West



Content sponsored by Bank of the West

The International Banking Group is a team of Bank of the West specialists dedicated to helping expatriates in the U.S. Our multiple backgrounds help us build international client-specific solutions that address the unique challenges and opportunities facing international clients.  Contact Julien Christiaens, VP – Area Manager, for more information.


About Felicity H. Barber

I am a speechwriter, who coaches people to make awesome speeches, presentations and pitches. I moved to San Francisco from London with my software engineer husband and two cats in 2014. As if moving half way around the world wasn’t enough, I made the crazy decision to start my own business at the same time! Life has been a big adjustment to go from in-house to freelance, tea and scones to coffee and brownies, rainy days to constant sunshine, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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