Q&A: Why credit scores drop suddenly

Dear Liz: The same thing happened to me as to the person in your column whose credit score dropped more than 100 points after large purchases. We bought plane tickets for international travel and our credit score took a significant but temporary hit. This also happened when we made a charitable gift by credit card. After an appeal, I was able to get the credit limit on the credit card we use the most increased, and I’m waiting to see if that prevents the credit score from dropping going forward. I did check our credit reports and there were no missed payments or other problems.

Answer: Credit scores can drop when you use a lot of your available credit, but a 100-plus-point drop is unusual and should be investigated. You’re smart to look for ways to mitigate the damage from high usage. Asking to have credit limits increased is one way; another is making a payment before the statement closing date. The balance on that closing date is what’s generally reported to the credit bureaus, and thus what’s factored into your scores. Just remember to pay off any remaining balance before the due date.

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