When you’re trying to build up your credit so you can get a home loan or a lower financing rate on your vehicle, you need to take care to avoid making mistakes that will lower your credit score. Be vigilant about these simple things so that you don’t lose valuable points from your credit score that you’ll need for providing your family with the very best.

Here are the mistakes you must avoid in order to keep your credit score from suffering.

Making Payments Late

This is the easiest thing to avoid, yet it is the most common mistake people make when it comes to their credit. It’s also the biggest factor that credit agencies will use to determine your credit score. I’m not talking a payment or two here and there over the years while you were out of town or when you forgot once during a busy week. I’m talking repeatedly being late on payments which will adversely affect your score.

Failing to Pay the Minimum Due

When your credit card bill arrives, you should at least make the minimum payment that is due. Paying less will lead to late fees and further interest charges and not paying at all will result in being reported to credit agencies.

Owing Too Much

When you spend the limit on your credit card or owe a substantial amount of money on all your cards, potential creditors will doubt your ability to pay. This is the exact information creditors use to decide whether or not to approve you for loans so be sure to keep your balances manageable.

Having Too Many Credit Cards

When you have too many credit cards, including department store cards, those extra lines of credit can affect your credit even if you never use them. When a potential creditor sees this, they wonder if you will be able to repay any other new financial obligation that you might take on.

Not Notifying Creditors of Address or Name Changes

Moving around and neglecting to change your address will cause you to be late on bills because of missed mail. Plus, even if your credit is good, not telling creditors that you’ve moved can completely derail all your good efforts to build good credit.

Using a Name Other Than Your Full Legal Name on Financial Papers

From bank accounts to loan applications, these items all become a part of your credit timeline. Much of the time, they don’t contain your social security number. If you use your full legal name every time (first, middle, and last), it ensures the information about you is on your report. This is especially important if you have a common name or you have a child with a similar name to you.

Watch out for these credit mistakes and you’ll protect your credit and keep it strong for when you’re ready for buying a home or making another large investment.