Bad credit is defined as having a history of missed payments, being late with payments, or loans that you have not repaid. Bad credit is the lowest score on the FICO score scale. A credit score is a measurement used by many different companies, both for lending and various other transactions. Bad credit can result from a variety of factors. Still, in general, it is often associated with people who cannot maintain a consistent source of income, are not able to save regularly, have financial challenges that are out of their control, or are inexperienced at managing credit.
Credit builds over time, and good credit history can save you thousands of dollars by preventing costly interest and fees from accumulating. Bad credit can affect how credit scores are calculated and how much you’ll pay for borrowing. Bad credit scores are often caused by significant amounts of late payments or missed payments in the past.
How Bad Credit Works?
People who have bad credit can easily have loans, and other transactions denied to them by lenders or credit card companies because of the history of late payments, defaulted loans, or other activity in their credit history. Even if a company wants to give you a loan, they may refuse to extend the credit if you have bad credit. These restrictions are especially likely when a company is trying to sell you a long-term loan, like a car loan or a mortgage.
Bad credit tends to affect a person’s ability to obtain a home or car loan and obtain other forms of credit such as credit cards and auto loans. With a bad credit score, a person is likely to pay much higher interest rates, making it much harder to qualify for credit in the future.
What Are the Causes of Bad Credit?
Some of the most common causes of bad credit are:
- They are drawn on a line of credit for any purpose other than to meet the financial needs of the account.
- Borrowed money from a friend or family member and failed to pay it back.
- Suspicious activity on a credit report, such as collection agency complaints or reports from a collection agency or another creditor.
- Significant unpaid debt.
- No one is immune to bad credit, and some of the most common types of bad credit are:
- Record of late payments: A history of delinquent payments on credit accounts where the payment is more than 60 days late.
- Restrictive covenants: A legal agreement that restricts the use of credit, such as an insurance contract or credit card limit.
- Medical debt: Bills with a late payment after a 90-day grace period.
As well as the issues with bad credit itself, it is not uncommon for people to miss payments because of temporary financial situations, such as broken or delayed payments on medical bills, expensive car repairs, or sometimes because they need to repay student loans.
Why should you be concerned?
If you’re having difficulty paying your bills on time and it’s impacting your credit score, you may be concerned. Credit card interest is typically interest on the total of all charges in the month, but it is usually a percentage of the minimum payment. A new minimum payment is due for all outstanding debt every month, and the credit card issuers report this payment to your credit score.
To understand how bad credit can affect your borrowing and other financial transactions, it’s helpful to consider how credit scores are calculated. A credit score is a single number that helps predict your creditworthiness and can range from 300 to 850. The higher the number, the better the credit risk. You can have a bad credit score without making late payments or owing money.
So, if you have a large debt on one credit card, and you do not pay that debt until you make a minimum payment on your other cards, your total interest paid each month will be high. Consolidate your credit cards to pay all the bills on time and have a well-balanced credit mix.
What causes a credit score to fall?
Current or past credit problems often cause bad credit. This can result in late payments or going into collections and result in a decline in credit score. Someone with a high credit score but who experiences a bad bill from a creditor or has recently been put on a “credit watch” due to a single missed payment will see their score decline as the time between the two events decreases.
If you have poor credit but are making a reasonable payment plan and payments regularly, then the odds are pretty good that your credit score will improve in the short term. However, your score can decline if you let the bill slide and miss additional payments.
You can start to make better decisions about the best option to take in managing your money and your credit. You can do this by keeping the following things in action:
- Keep your credit cards open and use them as needed, but make sure you pay the minimum payments.
- Pay down your debts to work on paying off your credit cards.
- Pay off high-interest rate credit cards first.
- Make sure to pay at least the minimum payment on all your credit cards every month.
- Once you have paid all of your credit cards, try to apply for new credit cards. This will show lenders that you have money available and a credit score increase.
- Pay off the highest interest rate credit card first.
- Pay off your next highest interest rate card the next month, and so on.
- Payment more than the minimum payment on your lowest balance credit card.
How Bad Credit Affects You?
Depending on the degree of bad credit, a person can see any of the following things happen to their credit score:
- Repossession of a car that has been repossessed.
- The decline in employment or income.
- Limit the amount of credit available to the individual.
- A reduction in the length of credit available to the individual.
- Increasing amounts of fees.
A person’s credit score drop may even trigger a downward spiral. If a person’s score has dropped to a low number, this may put them at risk for future credit problems. This can often be a sign of debt problems or negative financial situations, which may be difficult for a person to manage.
What Are the Penalties for Bad Credit?
There are many different types of bad credit. Each one has its own set of rules, penalties, and requirements. Understanding these rules helps you understand what to do if you want to improve your credit. Here are some common scenarios:
1. Having only a single credit card
If you have just one credit card and charge things to it every month, you are using your credit limits. It’s also important to note that the credit bureaus charge you interest for the first few months after you make a purchase or open a line of credit.
So, if you only charge things when you’ve been approved for a purchase, you are wasting your credit limits. If you don’t have a credit limit on your credit card, it’s a terrible sign, and you need to take steps to improve your credit score immediately.
2. Closing a credit card account
Your credit score is adversely affected if you close an account and use the funds for other things. You have to pay late fees if you don’t pay what you’re supposed to. You also risk a delinquent account turning into a collection account.
To improve your credit score, you have to pay off a credit card balance. Or, you have to make the minimum payment to the credit bureaus. If you don’t pay down the balance, or you don’t make the minimum payments, then you have a negative item on your credit report. This causes all sorts of issues with potential creditors.
3. Not paying a bill in full
If you don’t pay your bill in full, you’ll have a negative item on your credit report. It also hurts your credit score. However, you can raise your score in this situation. You can pay a bill in full if you’ve got the money to do so. And if you can’t pay the bill, you can wait 30 days before sending it to the collection, if it’s not too small.
4. Using someone else’s credit
Another thing to be aware of is that if you owe money to anyone, including a family member or close friend, then using that person’s credit is an open door to more debt. However, there is a way around this. If you buy something from a family member and need a co-signer, you can pay a co-signer’s fees.
You can also find ways to get some money from a family member. Say your parent is not feeling well and needs some money. You can do something like hire a handyman to fix something around the house or maybe take in your uncle’s dog while they are away on vacation. The key here is to create a legal agreement with a family member for some payment.
5. Not making a repair
If you do not attempt to fix your credit score, it will continue to go down over time. Be proactive and resolve any issues with your credit cards. An essential step in the repair process is for you to start with the card that has the lowest limit. This is known as the “debt threshold.” The debt threshold for credit card use varies by the card issuer, but it can be a few hundred dollars or even a couple hundred dollars.
One way to pay the debt threshold is by making minimum payments, a.k.a. “principal-only payments.” If you make an extra payment, then your debt threshold rises. Your credit score will probably be higher than it was a month or two ago, but you have to make an effort to keep it that way.
There are many consequences to bad credit, but understanding the most common penalties helps to know what the FICO score is and how the FICO score is calculated. The score uses many interrelated factors and must be considered as a whole. The factors include:
- 30% – Length of credit history. This includes the amount of credit you have used, your credit mix, your age and if you have children.
- 15% – Amount of debt.
- 10% – Other negative factors such as non-payment of bills, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and tax lien.
FICO Score: A series of symbols – a five-digit number assigned to a numerical formula. FICO® Score uses a series of symbols to calculate your score – a five-digit number assigned to a numerical formula.
Of these, the length of your credit history is the most critical factor in determining your score. Most lenders use the length of your credit history when determining your credit score. The FICO score uses up to 35% of your score to determine your credit risk. The other 65% is influenced by the credit mix, age, income, and additional factors. This is because credit cards and lines of credit often have low introductory offers that will affect your credit score.
What can I do to improve my credit?
A good credit score can improve quickly by making the right financial moves. However, you can take steps to improve your credit score quickly without any further assistance.
- Getting in touch with your creditors and let them know you’re working on improving your credit and asking for a reduction in your payment
- Re-establishing your credit by maintaining a good payment history
- Avoiding new credit limits or applying for new lines of credit
- Keeping your credit card statements up-to-date
For helping to repair your credit, you should see a credit counselor to help you find out how much damage your credit has been impacted. Keep in mind that bad credit is not permanent. You can take steps to improve your credit and rebuild your credit score over time.
You must keep in mind that your credit score does not consider every purchase you make. Your credit score is not a reflection of what you have done. Your credit score only reflects your debt obligations. Keep in mind that bad credit is not permanent. You can take steps to improve your credit and rebuild your credit score over time.