It’s no secret an excellent credit score comes with many financial perks. It can help you qualify for the loans you need and pay less interest on the funds you borrow. Good credit also makes renting an apartment easier and can even earn you discounts on your car insurance.
While building and maintaining a great credit score should always be a priority, mistakes happen. Some mishaps are more severe than others and can impact your credit rating for much longer. Understanding which items carry more weight on your score will help you avoid them in the future.
The Impact of Negative Credit Marks
Not all negative marks have the same consequences. Some may have only a minor and temporary effect. Here are four common items that can negatively impact your credit score.
Late or Missed Payments
Your payment history has the most significant impact on your credit – making up 35% of your score. As a result, you should always work to pay your bills and make your loan payments on time.
How Long: Late or missed payments can remain on your credit report for up to 7 years.
What You Can Do: Avoid missing payments by setting reminders for bills and loan payments or set them up to be automatically paid.
A credit inquiry is when a company checks your credit report and/or score. There are two types of inquiries – soft and hard.
Soft inquiries are inquiries commonly used by financial institutions when sending you pre-approved offers. Other examples include background checks for employment or when you apply to rent an apartment. Soft inquiries do not affect your credit score and should not show up on your report.
Hard inquiries are when you apply for a loan and give a lender authorization to pull your credit. Hard inquiries do impact your credit score and will show up on your credit report.
How Long: Each hard inquiry can remain on your credit report for up to 2 years.
What You Can Do: An inquiry is a negative mark that does not carry significant weight. If you are applying for a loan, such as a car loan, the impact will be minimal and temporary. However, inquiries can become more significant if you frequently apply for loans or credit cards.
Collections, Charge-Offs, Repossessions, Foreclosures
If you fail to pay your loans on time, your account will move into the collections phase. The lender will first try to work out a payment plan with you. If the loan has collateral, such as a car or house, they may have to repossess the vehicle or foreclose on the home. If the loan doesn’t have collateral, such as a personal loan, they may charge off the loan and use the courts to recoup their losses.
How Long: Collection items can remain on your credit report for up to 7 years.
What You Can Do: If you’re facing financial difficulties, it’s always best to reach out to your lender as soon as possible. The earlier you make your situation known, the more solutions they will have to help you.
When all other financial options are exhausted, you may choose to file bankruptcy. This is the legal process of eliminating all or part of your current debts. Typically, you will be required to repay a portion of your debt utilizing a payment plan.
How Long: Whether you file Chapter 7 or 13, a bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for up to 10 years.
What You Can Do: Filing for bankruptcy is one of the most harmful items you can have on your credit report. While it may seem like your only option if your debts are significant, other solutions may be available. Before deciding to file bankruptcy, always seek the guidance of a financial advisor and attorney first.
The benefits of an excellent credit score are many; however, getting to that level may sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing. It’s important to remember that even if you make mistakes along the way, that’s ok. Learn from the hiccup and keep moving forward.
Finally, remember that all negative marks eventually come off your credit report with time.
We’re Here to Help!
Whether you’re just starting to build your credit history or you’re trying to rebuild your score, we’re ready to help. We’re here to answer all your questions and provide one-on-one financial guidance to help you reach your goals. Please stop by any of our convenient branch locations to get started today.
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