Wednesday, 18 July 2012

How to Rebuild Your Credit Blog Series – Part 3 Credit Balances That Are At, Close to, or Over

This is the third part in a four part blog series about how to rebuild your credit. Learning how to rebuild your credit begins with learning how to manage it. One major impact to your credit score is when you have credit card products that are close to, at, or over their limits.  

Many people think that the best way to build credit is to get a credit card, use it, and then make monthly payments. This is a dangerous proposition. How you manage each credit card will impact your credit score either by either increasing or decreasing it.  

Learning how to rebuild your credit means understanding how your credit habits can result in a decrease to your credit score. As a rule of thumb you should try to ensure that your credit card balance does not exceed 75% of your limit. If it does, it will not only reduce your credit score but will also trigger a message on your credit report that says “proportion of balances to credit limits are too high”. Even if you have 10 credit cards and only one of them is close to, at, or over the limit, it will negatively impact your credit score and trigger the above mentioned message on your credit report.

If you have had bad credit in the past and are trying to figure out how to rebuild your credit you may see a secured credit card as one option, and financial professionals will often suggest this as a way to rebuild credit. When you take out a secured credit card, you will send the credit card company a deposit and then they send you a credit card with a limit equal to or less than the deposit you sent them. When you do this, that credit card has the potential to rebuild your credit. Re-loadable credit cards are not secured credit cards and do not rebuild your credit.

When trying to rebuild your credit, if you take out a secured credit card it is likely that your secured credit card will have a smaller limit, usually $200, $500 or $1000. We discussed the issue of how much of an impact it can have to your credit if you have a balance on even one credit card that is close to, at, or over your credit limit. This is one of the most common mistakes people make when they take out a secured credit card. Capital One is a company that offers secured credit cards and often a first time secured credit card with Capital One will have a low starting limit of a couple hundred dollars. Even if the limit on your secured credit card is only $200, do not carry more than 75% of your limit as a balance. For example, if your secured credit card has a limit of $200, do not run a balance higher than $150.

In other situations, when people begin nearing or going over their credit limits on credit cards, it is a sign of a deeper financial problem. It is very easy to get in over your head with credit cards. You may have a few credit cards and one month you may use one to make an expensive car repair, and then another month you may use another when you go on vacation, and then another month you may use another one to make repairs in your home. Before you know it you can have several credit cards with high balances and when interest begins to accrue they can become very difficult to pay off. Minimum payments barely cover interest and if you get caught in a cycle of only being able to afford the minimum payments it can take many, many, years to pay them off.

If you want to know how to rebuild your credit and you have credit card debt and are only making minimum payments right now, it may be time to make some choices that will enable you to rebuild your credit. Sometimes it’s hard to know which choices are the right ones when it comes to dealing with your debt. There are many resources available to people who struggle with debt. Once you have dealt with your debt and are beginning the process of rebuilding credit, your best option when using a new credit card that is meant to rebuild credit is to use the card for limited expenses, such as gas, and only use as much as you can afford to pay off in full in a given month.

If you would like more information about how to rebuild your credit, or if you are in debt and need some guidance, please call DebtCare at 416-907-2582 or visit

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