6 ways to kill your credit score

Lenders, insurers, landlords and others will charge you more or flat-out reject you if you show up with a low FICO score. Here's how you may be doing yourself harm.

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CNN's Gerri Willis shows you how to improve your credit score. (March 24)
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Be too young and eager
Old credit accounts count more than young ones in your credit score.

Lenders prefer borrowers who have responsibly managed the same accounts for years. That's a more reliable indicator of creditworthiness than a few months of exemplary behavior on a new account. Accounts open less than six months will hurt your score somewhat, according to Rex Johnson, founder of credit union consulting firm Lending Solutions Consulting. Those open six months or more won't, while those open at least two years will help your score.

Lenders also don't like to see a borrower who's gone on a credit binge, applying for a lot of new accounts or loans in a short period.

Every time you apply for new credit, your score may be dinged by 5 points, Johnson said. That's not the case, though, if a broker shops around for the best loans on your behalf. In that case, if they approach multiple lenders who all pull your credit report, that will only count as one inquiry so long as they all do so within a two-week window.

To boost your score: Avoid applying on your own for a lot of loans and credit cards, particularly in a short period. And avoid excessive card-hopping.

Be a bad-timing big spender

Be a slacker

Be too thin

Be too young and eager

Be too tidy

Be too nonchalant
Saving and spending aren't the only factors affecting your net worth. How you manage (or don't manage) your assets and liabilities can make a big difference, too. (more)
You don't have to spend a lot of time to put your financial house in order. (more)