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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Be too tidy
The bigger your balance relative to your credit limit, the lower your score.

But while it may be tempting to close out a credit card account when you transfer the balance to a lower-rate card, you may inadvertently hurt your score. That's because your total balance stays the same but your credit limit goes down when you close an account.

Say you have three credit cards with a combined credit limit of $24,000 ($8,000 each) and you owe $6,000 total. Your balance represents 25% of your credit limit. If you then close out one of your accounts, your credit limit goes down to $16,000 but your debt is still $6,000, which now represents 37.5% of your credit limit.

To boost your score: Don't close unused accounts when you transfer debt.


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)

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Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.