WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Higher prices this year have forced many people to pay with plastic, and consumer advocates point to good planning to make sure you’re not ruining your credit score, given late payments.

A study published by credit reporting agency Transunion says Americans took out a record 87.5 million credit cards in 2022. Despite the uptick this year, Transunion indicates less people will take out credit cards in 2023.

In addition, serious credit card late payments will increase next year, along with delinquencies on personal loans.

However, the report says late payments on car loans will decrease.

Consumer analysts like Timothy Woods urge people to avoid applying for multiple credit cards while indebted and do their best to pay off cards with the highest amount owed and with the highest interest rate. 

Woods adds consumers should talk with their credit card companies because, “a lot of them have programs when they will allow, during the holiday season, for people to skip a payment, but they’re not getting any penalties, and they’re not getting anything reported against them.”

In addition, Woods advocates consumers to pay the minimum balance owed each month to protect credit scores, and to read the fine print of credit card contracts due to possible hidden fees.