If your credit card balances every month are more than 30% of your credit limits, your score is suffering, even if you’re paying off your balances in full every month by the payment due date. That’s because your statement balance is most likely what’s being reported to the credit bureaus. So, keep an eye on those balances, and consider pre-paying some of the balance if you know you’ll be above that 30% mark this month.


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Unsurprisingly, consumers across the southern United States are far more likely to have subprime credit scores than consumers across the north. Minnesota had the fewest subprime consumers. In December 2016, just 21.9% of residents fell below an Equifax Risk Score of 660. Mississippi had the worst subprime rate in the nation: 48.3% of Mississippi residents had credit scores below 660 in December 2016.35
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A lot of creditors will easily forgive late payments if you only have 1 or 2.  All you need to do is call their customer service number and talk to one of their representatives.  Tell them what happened that month, that caused the payment to be made late (you were sick, your child was sick, you were out of town, you simply forgot).  As long as you are honest with them, and admit fault to the late payment, most creditors will want to continue to keep your business and remove the late payment for you.
If you don’t address the exact cause of your bad credit, the damage is likely to worsen the longer it goes untreated. For example, if you’ve missed a few credit-card payments, repaying at least the minimum amount needed to change your account’s status from “delinquent” to “paid” on your credit reports will prevent your score from falling further. The same is true of collections accounts, tax liens and other derogatory marks — at least to a certain extent.
The last major factor is your history of applying for credit. This accounts for 10% of most credit scores and may be holding you back if you applied for several credit accounts recently. This factor also takes time to correct, but any hard inquiries into your credit will only ding your scores slightly, and as they get older, they will have less of an impact. A year is generally when they begin to stop hurting your credit scores.
Many people, however, don’t have the time or don’t understand how to make their case, so they look into hiring a credit repair company to dispute errors on their behalf. These companies can charge a fee for their legwork (more on how that works in a minute), but there are times when the extra help can certainly be welcome. (Say you have multiple errors across credit reports or you’ve been the victim of widespread identity theft.)
Many of the companies appearing to offer free credit reports sell their monitoring service for a fee. The companies make you sign up for the free report and give a credit card, and then automatically transfer you to a paid service after enrollment and a trial period. If you do not cancel the service within the trial period, your credit charge will be automatically charged each month. Make sure you stop the service.
30% of your credit score is how much you owe on your credit cards. If you are maxed out on your credit cards, even if you make all your payments on time, you will see a dramatic decrease in your credit score. Don’t let your balances go to more than 30% of your credit limit; this is the sweet spot in the credit-scoring model. Even if you pay off your balances each month, the amount of credit you’ve used at the time of your monthly statement is the amount of debt used to calculate your credit score. Keep your balances low at all times during the credit card cycle.
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