|5 sure-fire ways to ruin your credit
The ability to "charge it!" is as American
as hot dogs, apple pie and baseball. Credit is issued with the understanding
that you'll use it wisely and make payments in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, it's easy to mess up the relationship. Avoid these
1. Charge away! Don't worry
about credit limits.
Get ready to pay penalty fees and wreck your credit by going over
the credit limit. Plus, you could face a double whammy -- one misstep
on a credit card often leads to rate hikes on other accounts. There's
no room for credit errors today. You're better off
giving your credit card debt the "payment push."
2. Mail payments late. What's
a few days between friends?
Nope, the creditor is not your friend. Don't expect a late payment
to be forgiven or forgotten. It will cost you. With late fees climbing
higher, it's best to play this relationship by the rules -- send
your payment on time. Here's
how. Plus, here are 20
more sneaky ways you can get burned in this relationship.
3. Charge to better your lifestyle.
I like my neighbors' new ...
Wave the red flag in front of your face. Don't use credit to keep
up with your neighbors. And, in this low-interest environment, your
resolve must be extra-strength. Why? These super-low
interest rates are aimed at getting you to buy more. Plus: Take
care with your zero-percent credit card.
4. Never check your credit
Your credit report impacts the interest rate you'll be charged on
credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and even insurances. In some
cases, your credit report determines whether you can rent an apartment
or get employment. Make sure yours speaks highly of you! Here's
how to read and understand your credit report. Need to clean
it up? Read: 5
steps to do-it-yourself credit repair.
5. Be careless with your identity.
Nobody ever expects it. According to a 2005 survey from the Better
Business Bureau and Javelin Strategy and Research, within the last
12 months, nearly 9.3 million Americans discovered they were identity
theft victims. The cost: damaged credit records, $5,686 in out-of
pocket expenses per individual, plus an average of 28 lost hours
in resolution time. Reduce
the risk of it happening to you. Plus: 14
ways to avoid identity theft