Why is my credit score low after getting a credit card?

Key Takeaway
At Homebody, we understand the excitement that comes with receiving a new credit card. However, it's not uncommon to notice a slight drop in your credit score shortly after getting your new card. We'll explain exactly why that happens (and what you can do to get your score back up.)

Why is my credit score low after getting a credit card?

At Homebody, we understand the excitement that comes with receiving a new credit card. However, it's not uncommon to notice a slight drop in your credit score shortly afterwards. Let's explore why this happens.

We’re also making this guide a CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE:

  • If you want thorough explanations of why your credit score is low, start at the top
  • If you need quick answers, scroll to the bottom to find our FAQ. 

Ready to learn about your credit score and how to fix it? Homebody’s got you covered.

Why did it go down? Factors leading to credit score drop

So, your credit score went down since you last checked it. What gives?!

To shed some light on why your credit score took a hit, take a look at the following events and see if they apply to your individual situation:

  • Late or missing payments
  • Change in credit utilization
  • Multiple credit applications
  • Impact of co-signing a loan
  • Identity theft 
  • Hard inquiries
  • New credit
  • Foreclosure
  • Bankruptcy

Late or missing payments

Payment history plays a crucial role in determining your credit score. Lenders want to see a consistent record of on-time payments, as it reflects your reliability as a borrower. When you miss payments or make late payments, it signals to lenders that you might struggle to meet your financial commitments. This can lead to a lower credit score because it suggests a higher risk of default.

For instance, if you fail to pay your credit card bill on time, it gets reported to credit bureaus and stays on your credit report for up to seven years. A series of late payments can significantly damage your score, making it harder to secure favorable loan terms or credit limits in the future.

Change in credit utilization

Credit utilization refers to the percentage of your available credit that you're using. A sudden change in credit utilization can impact your credit score. 

For example, if you've recently obtained a new credit card and make a large purchase right after receiving it, your credit utilization ratio might increase, especially if your available credit limit already is low. This higher utilization ratio can suggest financial instability to lenders, leading to a lower credit score.

Multiple credit applications

Submitting multiple credit applications within a short span can raise red flags for lenders. Each application triggers a hard inquiry on your credit report, indicating that you're actively seeking credit. This can be interpreted as a sign of financial distress or an intention to take on more debt than you can handle. As a result, your credit score may decrease due to the perceived risk associated with multiple credit applications.

Pro tip: gradually apply for new lines of credit one-at-a-time. Not only are you more likely to be approved, but you show a track record of approval from lenders/creditors and responsible financial behavior—not to mention you can learn to utilize credit more effectively.

Impact of co-signing a loan

Co-signing a loan can have a significant impact on your credit score. If the primary borrower fails to make payments on time or defaults on the loan, it directly affects your credit history. Late payments or defaults will be recorded on your credit report, dragging down your credit score. 

Before co-signing a loan, make sure you're fully aware of the responsibilities and potential consequences involved.

Here’s a real-world example:

Imagine your friend is trying to buy a car, but they don’t have a strong credit history. The lender is hesitant to approve the car loan based solely on your friend’s credit. So, your friend asks you to co-sign the loan with them.

You agree to co-sign, thinking it’s just a formality and that your friend will make all the monthly payments, on time. However, a few months down the line, your friend starts missing payments due to financial difficulties. Since you’re the co-signer, the lender holds you equally responsible for the loan.

As a result, those late payments and missed payments start appearing on both your friend’s AND your credit reports. These negative marks significantly impact your credit score as well as your friend’s. Even if you weren’t actively using the car, your creditworthiness is affected by your friend’s inability to make payments.

Identity theft 

Identity theft can wreak havoc on your credit score. Fraudsters may open unauthorized accounts or make unauthorized inquiries using your personal information. These actions can lead to negative marks on your credit report, damaging your score. 

Suppose you receive a call from a debt collector about a credit card you never applied for or used. You also start receiving bills for purchases you never made. These are signs that you might be a victim of identity theft.

Someone has managed to obtain your personal information and has opened credit accounts in your name without your knowledge. They’ve been making purchases and racking up debt using your identity.

As a result, your credit report starts showing these unauthorized accounts, late payments, and high balances that you never incurred. Your credit score begins to plummet due to these negative marks caused by the identity thief’s actions.

Hard inquiries

When you apply for a new credit card or loan, the lender performs a hard inquiry to assess your creditworthiness. Each hard inquiry can lower your credit score by a few points. 

While a single inquiry's impact is minor, multiple inquiries within a short period can signal that you're actively seeking credit and may pose a higher risk to lenders.

  • Credit card applications: applying for new credit cards
  • Loan applications: applying for personal, mortgage or auto loan,, or other types of loans
  • Mortgage applications: applying for home purchase or refinance mortgages
  • Auto financing: applying for vehicle financing
  • Student loan applications: applying for student loans
  • Retail store financing: applying for financing at retail stores
  • Apartment rentals: some landlords perform credit checks during the rental application process
  • Cell phone contracts: applying for new cell phone contracts or plans
  • Utilities services: setting up utilities services (electricity, gas, water, etc.)
  • Cable and internet services: applying for cable TV or internet services
  • Insurance applications: applying for auto, home, or other types of insurance
  • Job applications: some employers check credit as part of the hiring process
  • Government security clearance: credit checks may be part of security clearance applications
  • Co-signing a loan: co-signing loans for others
  • Certain membership applications: some financial institutions check credit for membership applications
  • Certain subscription services: applying for subscription services with credit checks
  • Land contracts: real estate agreements that require credit checks
  • Home improvement financing: applying for financing for home improvement projects

New credit

Opening a new credit account affects the average age of your credit history. A longer credit history is generally favorable for your credit score. When you open a new account, it reduces the average age, potentially leading to a lower score. However, this impact lessens over time as the new account ages and contributes positively to your overall credit limit and history.


A foreclosure occurs when you default on your mortgage payments, leading the lender to seize and sell your property to recover the loan amount. This event has a severe negative impact on your credit score.

When a foreclosure happens, it indicates to creditors that you were unable to fulfill a major financial obligation. This can significantly lower your credit score, potentially by hundreds of points. The foreclosure stays on your credit report for seven years from the date of the first missed payment that led to the foreclosure. This negative mark can make it hard to qualify for new credit, and even if you do, you might face higher interest rates due to the perceived risk.


Bankruptcy is a legal process that helps individuals or businesses eliminate or repay their debts under the protection of the court. While bankruptcy provides relief to those overwhelmed by debt, it has a profound impact on credit scores.

A bankruptcy filing can lead to a substantial decrease in your credit score. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which involves the liquidation of assets to repay creditors, remains on your credit report for ten years. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a repayment plan, remains on your credit report for seven years. During the bankruptcy process, creditors may receive partial payment or none at all, further affecting your creditworthiness.

How did my credit get this bad? A brief guide to understanding your credit score & how to fix it

As you can see, your credit can take a hit in multiple ways. Your credit score is a culmination of various factors, including:

  • Payment history: 35%
  • Credit utilization: 30%
  • Length of credit history: 15%
  • New credit: 10%
  • Credit mix: 10%

Pay attention to the percentage that each component influences your overall credit score. This is important–your credit strategy should be focused on boosting what’s weighed the most heavily (Payment History > Credit Utilization > Length of Credit History > New Credit > Credit Mix). 

Once you’ve managed to iron out the flaws in your credit, progressing towards getting new credit and diversifying your credit mix are solid strategies.

For more info, keep reading the next section to learn about effective strategies to rehab your credit and get the financial future you deserve!

Fix your credit: the easiest steps to boost your score

Credit is easier to fix than you might think. The following are the most effective strategies you can use to win the credit game like a pro:

  • Monitoring and correcting inaccurate information
  • Timely payment history
  • Managing credit utilization
  • Strategic credit applications
  • Protecting against identity theft
  • Using Homebody’s credit reporting

Monitoring and correcting inaccurate information

Knowledge is power when it comes to credit. It is crucial to regularly monitor your credit reports to ensure the accuracy of the information they contain. Inaccuracies in your credit reports can lead to lower credit scores and even denial of credit applications. 

By checking your reports from all three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—you can identify any discrepancies and take prompt action to correct them.

Inaccurate information might include accounts that don't belong to you, incorrect payment statuses, or outdated personal details. 

By law, you're entitled to a free credit report from each bureau annually, which can be requested through annualcreditreport.com. If you spot errors, notify the credit bureau in writing and provide supporting documentation. The bureau must investigate the dispute and correct any inaccuracies.

Timely payment history

Maintaining a positive payment history is a cornerstone of good credit. Consistently making payments on time demonstrates your reliability as a borrower and positively impacts your credit score. Late payments, on the other hand, can significantly lower or hurt your credit score and remain on your credit report for years. Not fun!

To ensure timely payments, consider setting up automatic payments or payment reminders. This simple step can help you avoid accidentally missing due dates. If you encounter financial difficulties, reach out to creditors and explore options such as payment plans to prevent late payments from affecting your credit history.

Managing credit utilization

Use it or lose it. Credit utilization, the ratio of your credit card balances to your credit limits, plays a vital role in your credit score. It's recommended to keep your utilization below 30% to maintain a favorable score. Sudden spikes in credit utilization, such as making large purchases on your cards, can negatively impact your score.

To manage credit utilization, pay attention to your spending patterns and aim to pay off balances in full each month. If you're approaching a higher utilization rate, consider making multiple payments throughout the billing cycle to keep the ratio low. Additionally, requesting credit limit increases can help keep your utilization in check.

Strategic credit applications

Each credit application results in a hard inquiry on your credit report. Multiple inquiries in a short period can signal increased risk to lenders and lower your score. To mitigate this, space out credit card applications and be mindful of inquiries.

Instead of applying for multiple credit cards simultaneously, research and choose cards that align with your needs and credit profile. Applying for credit strategically can help you manage inquiries and maintain a stable credit score. Also, keep in mind that the negative impact of inquiries lessens over time.

Protecting against identity theft

As of the most recent statistics, the FTC received 5.7 million total fraud and identity theft reports, 1.4 million of which were identity theft cases. What’s alarming about this is that it can be years before identity fraud is discovered, making it difficult to find out when and where your identity was stolen. 

That being said, identity theft can wreak havoc on your credit score. To protect yourself, be cautious about sharing personal information and monitor your financial accounts regularly. Consider using strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible.

Review your credit reports for unauthorized accounts or inquiries. If you suspect identity theft, place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit reports. This prevents fraudsters from opening new accounts in your name. Promptly report any unauthorized activity to the credit bureaus and law enforcement agencies.

By being proactive and vigilant, you can minimize the risk of identity theft and its potential impact on your credit score.

Using Homebody’s Credit Reporting

Homebody knows how important it is to pay your rent on time and how much that can affect your creditworthiness. With Rent Credit Reporting, you just pay a small monthly fee to make sure your on-time rent payments get reported to credit bureaus. It's an easy way to fix up your credit and open doors to better money opportunities.

But wait, there's more! Homebody has a cool solution that helps your credit score while you keep on paying rent – which you're already doing. No need to shell out $1,000 for a deposit – our cool Deposit Alternative lets you pay low insurance premiums (like $10/month), saving you lots in the beginning.

And it's not just about fixing credit. Homebody is all about boosting your overall financial wellness. We offer Renters Insurance with a super-easy signup process – just about 7 clicks, takes less than 5 minutes so you're covered from the day you move in.

Jump into Homebody today and see how we're changing up the game when it comes to getting your finances in order – from patching up your credit to breezing through getting your place.

How long does it take to improve my credit score?

The time it takes to improve your credit score varies depending on the specific factors that led to the decrease in the first place and the actions you take to fix it. 

Generally, you can start seeing positive changes within a few months, but more significant improvements might take several years. Here's a breakdown of the timeline:

Short-term improvements (3-6 months)

  • Timely payments: consistently making on-time payments on your credit accounts can have a relatively quick positive impact on your credit score. Payment history is a major factor, so establishing a pattern of on-time payments can show lenders your improved reliability.

Medium-term improvements (6 months - 2 years)

  • Credit utilization: gradually reducing your credit card balances and maintaining lower credit utilization can lead to improvements in your score over several months. This shows creditors that you're managing your debt responsibly.

Long-term improvements (1-7 years)

  • Negative items: negative items like late payments, collections, bankruptcies, and foreclosures stay on your credit report for a certain period, typically ranging from 7 to 10 years. As these items age, their impact on your score lessens, especially if you're actively building positive credit behavior during this time.

Continued good behavior (ongoing)

  • Length of credit history: as your credit accounts age, they contribute positively to the length of your credit history. The longer you maintain a positive credit history, the better it reflects on your credit score.
  • New credit and inquiries: opening new credit accounts responsibly and spacing out credit applications can help you establish a stable credit profile over time.

It's important to note that improving your credit score is a gradual process, and there's no magic solution that will result in an instant jump. Consistency and responsible credit behavior are key. 

Remember that while negative items may take time to fade, you can still make meaningful progress by focusing on the positive credit habits you develop along the way.

Conclusion: better credit, better financial future!

In a nutshell, understanding why your credit score dropped is the first step toward rectifying the situation. We've highlighted various factors that can impact your credit score negatively, ranging from late payments to identity theft. It's crucial to recognize how each of these factors can play a role in your individual situation and take appropriate action to improve your credit standing.

Remember, credit repair is a journey, not an overnight transformation. Short-term, medium-term, and long-term strategies can lead to tangible improvements. So, keep the big picture in mind and stay committed to building a healthier financial future. Good luck and happy credit-building!

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Looking for fast answers to your most urgent questions? Check out the following FAQ. 

How long will it take for my credit score to rebound from a hard inquiry?

Typically, the impact of hard inquiries fades over time and might be less noticeable after six months.

Should I avoid using my new credit card?

No, using your credit card responsibly by paying full balances on time can benefit your credit score in the long run.

Can I cancel my new card to reverse the credit score drop?

Canceling a credit card account won't immediately boost your score and might even hurt it further due to reduced overall credit availability.

Why is my credit score going down when I get a new card?

When you acquire a new credit card, your credit score might decrease due to the initial hard inquiry and potential change in your overall credit utilization rate.

How much does your credit score go down when getting a credit card?

The impact on your credit score from getting a new credit card varies, but a hard inquiry can typically cause a decrease of a few points.

How does a change in credit utilization rate affect my credit?

A significant change in your credit utilization rate, i.e., the ratio of credit used to credit available, can impact your credit score, especially if it increases.

Does a new hard inquiry appear on my credit report?

When you apply for new credit, a hard inquiry is made on your credit report, which can result in a slight decrease in your credit score.

What is a hard pull on credit?

A hard pull, or hard inquiry, occurs when a lender checks your credit report as part of the decision-making process for extending credit. It can affect your credit score temporarily.

Which are the most common things to consider before you apply for a new credit card?

Before applying for a new credit card, consider factors such as your credit utilization, payment history, and potential impact on your credit score.

Why is my credit score low after getting a credit card?

A newly acquired credit card could temporarily lower your credit score due to the initial hard inquiry, potential change in credit utilization, and other credit-related factors.

What is a good or bad credit score?

A good credit score typically falls in the range of 670 to 850, while a bad credit score is generally below 580. The specific range varies depending on the credit scoring models you model.

Why did my score go down when I recently opened, or applied for, multiple lines of credit?

Opening or applying for multiple lines of credit within a short period can signal increased credit risk and potentially lead to a temporary credit score drop.

What happens if you were the victim of identity theft?

Identity theft can lead to unauthorized accounts and financial activity, causing a sudden decrease in your credit score. Promptly address any fraudulent activity to mitigate the impact.

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