What are some of the big mistakes made with credit which could lead you into battling debt and having creditors sending letters of demand and listing defaults on your credit file? We look at the 7 mistakes with credit that could increase your changes of getting bad credit history.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs.

1. Leaving no room for emergencies

Borrow within your budget. If you have a revolving line of credit or use credit cards you will need to be disciplined. Consider what you can afford and try to live frugally, rather than spending right up to your credit limit. It’s important to realise that you will pay at some point for the credit you use. If you are consistently struggling to make your repayments – then it’s time to take stock of things. Many people get into trouble with their repayments and end up with defaults on their credit file because – well – life happens and they haven’t left any room in their repayments for saving or for emergency funds. Try to separate wants from needs when you borrow.

2. Thinking you need a large credit limit

Ignore what the card company or bank sets for your limit – what can you comfortably afford to repay? If you intend to apply for further significant credit in the future, you will need to consider that a lower credit limit looks better to a prospective lender – so if you don’t need it – consider reducing it.

3. Redrawing on your loan

If you have a redraw facility on your loan – the temptation can be high to borrow against it. But you should tread carefully here. Remember you are going to be paying interest on this money – you may be better to just save it from your wages. Credit cards can also offer cash advances, but do bear in mind the interest charges on this money are exorbitant. Cash advances are a common way people can blow out their credit card debt to epic proportions leaving them no way to pay, and with defaults which destroy their ability to get new credit for 5 to 7 years.

4. Choosing the wrong kind of credit

Make sure your credit suits you. Make it work for you, not the other way around. What kind of payer are you? What do you need the credit for? There’s no point getting a line of credit if you are the big-spender type – you are certain to get into trouble. These types of facilities only work if you are disciplined with your spending. When you choose a credit card – consider what you need it for. If you are going to use it a lot – perhaps the rewards points could be a deciding factor. But if you are only going to use it sporadically – maybe the annual fees should be more important.

The same goes for any big ticket item you purchase using credit – like houses and cars. What does it need to do for you? What can you actually afford? How long will you need it for? Remember a car always depreciates in value. And whilst houses can make you money in the right market, and possibly a 4 bedroom ensuite home might be a good long term investment – can you actually afford to live comfortably with this debt? If you need to go down to one income at some point – how will your repayments look then? It can cost you thousands in agent’s commission, stamp duty and legal fees to sell if you decide you have bitten off more than you can chew after you move in. Or if you default on your repayments you will probably be unable to borrow for years to come – so choose wisely.

5. Repaying only the minimum amount

On credit cards, you should pay off the entire credit card balance within the interest free period to avoid the high interest charges. If you don’t, you will be charged interest right back to the date you purchased each item. You not only lose the interest-free period on those past purchases, but until you pay off the balance there will be no interest free period on anything you spend in the future. This can see some people come unstuck and their credit card debts can snowball with interest until they reach the point where they are unable to pay and begin to get into arrears.

You can find low interest credit cards, but it is still advisable to pay more than the minimum repayment amount each month. If you have debt which carries over on your card month to month you should look at a card that has a lower interest rate. There may not be as many ‘perks’, but the lower interest rate should mean the carried over debt is more manageable for you, and will prevent possible bad credit history.

Likewise on any other type of loan that you actually want to pay off – paying the minimum amount will not get you there. You will need to pay a significant amount more to start paying into the principle – especially in the early days of the loan.

6. Not Checking Statements

You should check that your credit and debit card statements are correct every month – and query anything you’re not sure about. Maybe you were charged twice for an item, or charged too much. It is a good way to be alerted early to identity theft as well. You should also check your bank account statements in the same way.

Checking your statements will also allow you to get a good handle on just where you’re spending too much and allow you to adjust your spending next month to compensate.

7. Not Checking Your Credit Report

Most people don’t know that every year they are able to request a copy of their credit report for free from Australia’s credit reporting agencies. This report is important, because it shows you how you will be viewed by lenders if you ever apply for a loan. You should check that all of your personal details are correct. You should check the credit enquiries are valid (id theft risk). You should also check to see whether you have any negative entries against your name. Defaults, Clear-outs, Judgments, Writs can all mean you will be refused credit if you apply.

If you don’t believe the credit listing should be there, if you didn’t know about it or you think there might be a mistake, then the worst thing you can do is leave it there. It will mean you are locked out of mainstream credit for between 5 and 7 years – depending on the listing type. It will often mean you are told by Creditors and the agencies that the bad credit is there to stay for the term – it can’t be removed. But this may not be true.

For professional advice on how to tackle Creditors and the credit reporting agencies about a listing which should not be there, a credit repairer will be able to determine whether your circumstances would allow for repairing the credit rating and actually negotiating the removal of the bad credit history from your credit file.

If you want to see what is said about you on your credit file, you can contact MyCRA Credit Rating Repiars to request a free copy of your credit report. We can also help to repair bad credit history, or give you more information on your credit rating. Visit our website www.mycra.com.au or call MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs tollfree on 1300 667 218 for more details.

Image 1: adamr/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image 2: David Castillo Dominici/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net