Are you an American resident under 30 years old? If so, chances are you’ve made at least one major credit blunder, or credit mistakes that could haunt you for a while and make it difficult to get a low interest rate or even approved for credit at all.

That’s right, according to a recent survey conducted by Credit Karma, some 68 percent of all Americans have at least one negative mark on their credit report. According to the survey, such marks often include maxing out a credit card, late payments, defaulting on a loan or having an account sent to collections. About three out of every four respondents stated that they believed the credit mistakes had a negative impact on their life.

Needless to say, but the more severe the blunder, the more it will impact your credit. What’s more is that such penalties can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years.

Avoiding a Credit Disaster

While it makes sense that a younger age demographic would experience more credit mishaps than a more experienced one (live and learn, right?), the Credit Karma survey concluded that the best way to avoid a credit disaster among these youngsters is to be properly educated about the importance of your credit score, as well as how to manage personal finances. Bottom line: before you get that first credit card, know the importance of your credit score and the responsibilities associated with properly managing your finances.

Repairing Credit

If you’re among the 68 percent of Americans that did some damage to your credit score before you were 30 and are still paying the price, here’s a look at how to get that credit score repaired and back into shape:

  • Get under 30 percent: Always strive to have your debt-to-credit allotment under 30 percent. For instance, if your credit limit is $10,000, try to keep the balance at or below $3,000 for the best possible credit score.
  • Pay down debt: Always pay down the high-interest accounts first, as you’ll not only work toward a no balance account, but also save money in the long-term.
  • Make payments on time: This is perhaps the easiest way to up your credit score, yet it’s one that people struggle with. The bottom line is that late payments can greatly impact your score, so do what you need to do (schedule auto payments, set phone alerts, etc.) to remind you when bills are due.
  • Get a secured credit card: These cards require cardholders to put up “collateral” to obtain a credit line. They’re a great way to build credit and eventually can be helpful in the desire to apply for an additional, standard credit card.

Stop Making These 6 Mistakes When Checking Your Credit
If you’re not checking your credit at least once a year, you’ve leaving yourself a risk of identity theft or allowing a bad debt to build on itself.  ave your money in the long run by tracking your credit carefully. Just make sure to avoid these six common Mistakes When Checking Credit

Paying for Free Reports

Under federal law, you’re entitled to one free credit report each year. You can get your free report online in a matter of minutes and it won’t cost you a penny. If you haven’t gotten your free report this year, don’t even think about spending a dime until you do.

Only Checking With One Bureau

There are three big national credit agencies out there, and they all work separately. That means you credit could be perfect according to one agency and absolutely awful according to another. They all get their information at different times and from different sources. As a result, you need to check your credit with each agency to get the full picture.

Asking For the Wrong Score

Different industries use different formulas to calculate your credit-worthiness, so you can get misleading information by asking for the wrong credit report. If you want to know if you qualify for a new mortgage, for example, don’t request a report tailored to credit card companies. They use different criteria, so the report won’t do you much good.

Misinterpreting the Score

You need to understand the scales used on your credit score to get a sense of what the number means. While most FICO scores operate on a scale from 300 to 850, others use a scale from 150 to 950. Just taking a quick glance and seeing the number 650 on a paper doesn’t actually tell you much. Check the scale to see where you fall relative to others. Also, don’t just look at the score. Check for any listed debts in poor standing, too.

Not Keeping a Copy

Save yourself a big headache by always keeping your credit reports stashed away somewhere safe. Even if you’ve got perfect credit without a black mark anywhere, having a paper copy in your records can help you if you need to contest false reports or charges in the future. For example, if an unpaid car loan suddenly shows up on your report next year, having an old copy to compare against could prove very valuable. Just make sure to stash old reports somewhere safe to reduce the risk of identity theft.

Getting Obsessive

You checked your report last year and found a score of 760, but this year it’s suddenly down to 758! What on earth went wrong? Absolutely nothing. Your credit score naturally fluctuates by a few points all the time and it’s nothing to worry about. Don’t stress out about tiny changes. That two-point drop might reflect a tiny change on your credit card balance or a tweak in the agency’s calculations. It doesn’t signify anything important about your credit, so don’t fret about it.

Credit Mistakes – The Quickest Way to Tank Your Score

A high credit score takes years of smart choices, discipline and work. But, you can send your credit score plummeting by hundreds of points in seemingly no time at all. What actions will do the damage the quickest? Read on to learn and know which credit mistakes to avoid.

Not Paying the Bill

If you forget to pay by a few days, your credit card company will probably be understanding, particularly if you correct the issue quickly. But, do it a few times, or let a bill go more than 60 days past due, and you will see a precipitous drop in your score. There are also probably rules in your credit card agreement that say that the company can impose a late payment penalty and increase your interest rate.

Applying for Every Great Card You Are Offered

Most of us get lots of credit card offers every time we turn around. They arrive in the mail day after day. They come in the form of online offers when you check your bank account or buy things online. While expanding your credit usage does help your score, there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. Each credit inquiry lowers your score for a period of time.

And then, there is the temptation of having more available credit. If you increase your spending with your increased limit, you can wind up with bills that are hard to keep up with.

Maxing Out Your Cards

Do you think of your available spending money as your income, plus your available credit? Do you get carried away and not think of what you are charging? Getting too close to the limit can have a disastrous affect on your credit score.

One of the things that credit reporting agencies is how much of your available credit you are using. Ideally, you should use no more than 30% of your available revolving credit at any given time. Experts recommend, for the best credit scores, to keep it down below 10%. When your utilization tips past the 50% mark, it starts to do a number on your credit.

Once you start getting near the limits of your available credit, your score will fall sharply. Plus, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. The higher your balance, the higher your minimum payments. And, paying only the minimum means that it will take longer to pay off your debt, which means you pay more in interest. This is a dangerous place to be, because it can mean that it’s harder to keep up with just your minimum commitments, which puts us back at the big score killer: failing to pay your debts on time.

Cleaning House on Debts

Some people feel that the best thing they can do to clear up their credit score is to close old or unused accounts. But, this has the opposite of the intended effect. If you close an account, it eventually falls off your report. The age of your credit history is part of what makes up your score.

Building a good score can take years of effort. Don’t undo your hard work by falling into any of the above credit-ruining traps.