4. It takes forever for a credit score to budge. Your credit score is a reflection of your credit behavior at a particular point in time, and it can increase or decrease any time there is a significant change on your credit report. Hard inquiries are often reported immediately, while credit card issuers typically update information to credit bureaus in 30-day cycles. According to one report by VantageScore, roughly 70% of credit scores change by up to 20 points in a 90-day window.

Lesson: While it's not helpful to obsess over your credit score daily, checking about once a month gives a general snapshot of your credit health over time.

5. Credit cards are good for your credit score. True, but they aren't the only way to build your credit score. While having a credit card and paying on time and in full every month is a great way to build credit, your score benefits significantly from having different types of credit. Diversity of credit influences your credit score and is an important factor when lenders assess your creditworthiness. An installment loan like a mortgage or auto loan may hold more weight in some credit score models than a handful of store credit cards.

Lesson: Aim to have a mix of credit types, from credit cards to student loans to a mortgage. For your existing loans, be sure to pay on time and in full, because mistakes on significant lines of credit can have a drastic effect on your score.

6. I don't have to worry; I already have an excellent credit score. Congratulations on having a high credit score, but you aren't off the hook. Credit score algorithms are formulated so that the higher your credit score, the harder it is to gain additional points on your credit score. It's much harder for a consumer with an 800 credit score to gain even a few points, while a consumer with a 600 credit score can improve his or her credit score relatively quickly with the right credit-building steps. Also, the higher your credit score, the greater the damage when you make a misstep. If you had a 680 credit score, you would lose 60 to 80 points for a 30-day late payment; if you had a 780 score, you'd be likely to lose 90 to 110 points with the same late payment, reports FICO.

Lesson: Consumers with high credit scores must be diligent about maintaining their scores and avoiding small credit mistakes that cause significant damage. Monitor your credit score for any fluctuations that signal red flags in your credit behavior.

Credit scores are lenders' formulas to protect themselves from risk and extend the best offers to the right customers. However, it's our right as consumers to be proactive about managing our credit health and make our credit scores work for us, not financial institutions.

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