6 Credit Card Mistakes That Could Be Ruining Your Credit

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It’s difficult to overstate how important your credit record and credit score are. Not only will good credit enable you be approved for the most attractive credit cards, it’s vital for receiving the lowest rates on a car loan, a mortgage, and on home and auto insurance premiums. It can even make the difference in whether you get the apartment or job you want, since both landlords and employers often run credit checks on applicants. (See also: 15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You)

Unfortunately, many credit card users are making big mistakes that are ruining their credit. Since it can take years for some of the most negative items to drop off your credit report, it’s crucial to avoid making these mistakes in the first place. Here are six credit card mistakes that could be ruining your credit.

1. Paying Late

The most important factor in your FICO score — the most popular credit score lenders use to evaluate you — is your payment history. It makes up 35% of your score. (See also: 5 Things with the Biggest Impact on Your Credit Score)

If you are using a credit card, your first priority should be to always pay your credit card bill on time. While one bill paid a few days late won’t cause lasting damage to your credit score, paying late frequently will hurt more. On top of that you’ll usually be subject to late fees.

Thankfully, there are many tools to help you pay on time. Most credit card issuers offer automatic payments to ensure that you never pay late. You can also request a specific payment due date so you can arrange all your bills to be due at the same time each month. That way you can sit down and pay bills just once a month rather than keeping track of various bills as they come in. Additionally, you can sign up for payment reminders by email or text.

2. Paying Less Than the Minimum

Paying just the minimum payment on your credit cards will hurt you financially, but paying below that is even worse — much worse.

To avoid being considered delinquent on a credit card account, you not only have to make your payments on time, but the payments must be at least the minimum amount required, which is stated on your bill. If…