4 Surprising Things That Will Affect Your Credit

06/22/2012 09:55 am ET | Updated Aug 22, 2012

By Kali Geldis

Learning the rules of credit isn't always as straightforward as you might think. Sometimes, doing something you might think would be great for your credit score can actually have an unintentional negative impact.

Here, we rounded up some of the most unexpected things that can affect your credit.

Late Library Books

You might not think that the overdue copy of 50 Shades of Grey that you checked out of the library would have an impact on your score, but that bill could be sent to a collections agency.

"Collections that can seriously hurt your score can arise from parking tickets and library fines, as much as from medical bills and credit card charge offs --- with the impact to your score being similar," says Barry Paperno, a credit industry veteran and's Community Director.

So, get those books back when they're due or the librarian won't be the only one coming after you.


Getting divorced involves dividing your assets as well as your debts, but just because your ex takes on the mortgage payments doesn't mean that you're off the hook.

"The account remains on their credit report and remains their responsibility until it is paid and closed. And even then it won't be removed from their credit history," says Gerri Detweiler,'s Director of Consumer Education. "Plus if your ex declares bankruptcy, creditors will come after you for balances on any joint accounts."

Closing an account

Many people think that getting rid of a credit card that they don't want, need or actually use is a good idea since it will show they're not credit-dependent. However, this can be a bad idea for two important reasons.

"This can (but will not always) raise your utilization percentage, and a closed account is often purged from your credit report sooner (7-10 years) than an open one (remains indefinitely) causing you to lose all of the positive credit history associated with the account," Paperno says.

One important note on closed accounts that might surprise you -- it doesn't matter if you close the account or if the issuer closes it, the effect on your credit score will be the same.

Just a single late payment

This isn't like high school where the teacher might give you a slide if you turn in a homework assignment late only one time. If a credit issuer reports a late payment on your account, it will impact your credit score.

As we recently highlighted, this problem will affect those with excellent credit more negatively than those with credit that's just fair or average.

Want four more surprising things that affect your credit? Keep reading!

This article originally appeared on Kali Geldis is the Deputy Managing Editor for