BOSTON (CBS) – Tips or Pitfalls from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
Closing unused credit card accounts certainly will streamline your finances making them more manageable. Normally I am a big fan of closing a credit card account especially if you have more than three cards.
But closing an account could lower your total credit line, potentially making your debt ratio worse. How much total debt you have compared to how much credit is available is your debt ratio, also called your credit utilization rate.
And if it’s a card you have had for a very long time it could lower the longevity factor of your credit score. Combined, those 2 factors make up 40% of your credit score and could cause your score to go down.
According to MyFico.com, FICO scores are calculated from many different pieces of credit data in your credit report. This data is grouped into 5 categories. Payment history, credit utilization, longevity, new credit and your overall credit mix.
Your credit payment history is worth 35% of the score. So paying your bills on time counts a lot. 30% of your score is the amount we owe compared to the amount of our credit line, your credit utilization rate. If you are maxed out it is not good for your credit score.
15% is the longevity factor. How long you have had the card. The next 10% is your credit mix. They take into account your loans and other credit. The last 10% is new credit. This looks at the amount of new cards you have taken out recently. Two or three cards and a car loan in a short period of time will have a negative effect on your score.
If you do decide to get rid of some of your credit cards know which ones to cancel. Consider getting rid of cards that charge an annual fee, have low limits like store cards and those with high interest rates.
Consider keeping the ones with the highest limit. Your credit utilization rate is very important in determining your credit score. You do not want to be using all of the credit that you have available. If you are maxing out your cards this will negatively impact your credit score.
Longevity is also important so keep the card you have had the longest. They show up on your credit history as a positive indicator.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is the organization I recommend most often to listeners whenever they tell me they need help with credit card debt. It has many local member agencies that it can recommend.