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Credit Mistakes
Personal Finance

Credit Mistakes That Could Be Costing You Money

The estimated reading time for this post is 301 seconds

Credit is a fundamental component of our financial lives. It enables us to borrow money, make purchases, and build wealth. However, consumers’ credit history can profoundly impact their daily lives in ways they may not realize. 

Common credit mistakes can cost them thousands of dollars in the long run. This article will discuss credit mistakes that could cost consumers money and provide alternative solutions.

Late payments

One of the most common credit mistakes is making late payments. Late payments can severely impact your credit score, affecting your ability to borrow money or get credit in the future. Late payments can also result in late fees and interest charges, which can add up quickly.

Late payments can stay on credit reports for up to 7 years from the missed payment date. The severity of the late payment, such as how many days and how many times it occurred, can also impact the length of time it stays on a credit report.

Solution: To avoid late payments, set up automatic payments or reminders to ensure you pay your bills on time. If you miss a payment, make the payment as soon as possible to minimize the impact on your credit score.

Maxing out credit cards

Another common credit mistake is maxing out your credit cards. Maxing out your credit cards can negatively impact your credit score, as it raises your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit you use compared to your available credit. 

A high credit utilization ratio can make it harder to obtain credit in the future.

Solution: To avoid maxing out your credit cards, keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%. This means you should aim to use no more than 30% of your available credit. 

If you struggle to keep your credit utilization ratio low, consider requesting a credit limit increase or making frequent payments to reduce your balance.

Ignoring your credit report

Many consumers make the mistake of ignoring their credit reports, which can be costly. Your credit report contains information about your credit history, including your credit accounts, payment history, and credit inquiries. If there are errors or inaccuracies on your credit report, it can negatively impact your credit score.

Solution: Check your credit report regularly to ensure that it is accurate. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year. 

If you notice any errors or inaccuracies on your credit report, contact the credit bureau to have them corrected.

Closing credit accounts

Closing credit accounts can also negatively impact your credit score. Closing a credit account reduces your available credit, which can increase your credit utilization ratio. Closing a credit account can also shorten your credit history, negatively impacting your credit score.

Solution: If you need to close a credit account, consider closing newer versions first. This will help to maintain your credit history and reduce the impact on your credit score. Alternatively, you could keep the account open and use it occasionally to keep it active.

Applying for too much credit

Applying for too much credit can also be a costly mistake. Each time you apply for credit, it results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can negatively impact your credit score. 

If you apply for too much credit within a short period, it can signal to lenders that you are a high-risk borrower.

Solution: Only apply for credit when you need it and try to limit the number of credit applications you make within a short period. 

Before applying for credit, check your credit score to ensure you are likely approved. You can also consider pre-approved credit offers, which are offers made to you based on your credit history.

Co-signing for someone else’s loan

Co-signing for someone else’s loan can also be a costly mistake. When you co-sign a loan, you become responsible for the loan if the borrower defaults. 

If the borrower misses payments or defaults on the loan, it can negatively impact your credit score and the borrower’s.

Solution: Before co-signing a loan, consider the risks involved and whether you can afford to take responsibility if the borrower defaults. 

It may be better to offer other forms of support, such as helping the borrower find a co-signer or offering to lend them money yourself.

Paying only the minimum balance

Paying only the minimum balance on your credit card each month can be costly. 

The minimum payment is usually a small percentage of the balance owed, meaning it can take years to pay off the balance and result in significant interest charges.

Solution: Try to pay off your credit card balance in full each month. If you cannot pay off the balance in full, pay more than the minimum to reduce the balance and minimize interest charges. 

You can also consider transferring your balance to a credit card with a lower interest rate.

Using payday loans

Using payday loans can also be a costly mistake. Payday loans are short-term loans with high-interest rates and fees. 

If you cannot repay the loan on time, the fees and interest charges can quickly add up, resulting in a cycle of debt.

Solution: If you need to borrow money, consider alternative options, such as a personal loan from a bank or credit union or a credit card with a lower interest rate. 

You can also consider contacting a non-profit credit counseling agency for help managing your debt.


In conclusion, making common credit mistakes can cost consumers thousands of dollars in the long run. 

You can save money and achieve your financial goals by avoiding these mistakes and improving your credit score. 

Remember to check your credit report regularly, pay your bills on time, keep your credit utilization ratio low, and only apply for credit when needed. 

If you are struggling with debt, reach out for help from a non-profit credit counseling agency. By taking these steps, you can improve your financial health and achieve long-term financial stability.


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