Putting off paying your credit card bill may be doing more damage than you think. Credit counsellors say a poor credit score can affect everything from mortgage rates to how much you pay for home insurance.

However, it's not just credit cards that can impact your credit score.

Anthony Gray learned that the hard way. He says his credit is poor because he's on the hook for a number of unpaid cell phone contracts.

"Now I have collection agencies after me," says Gray, "I'm in trouble."

Outstanding or unpaid cell phone bills and utility bills can cause major damage when it comes to your financial future.

"You may have to ask family and friends to co-sign with you for a loan," says Christi Posner of the Credit Counselling Society. "You may have to go to higher interest rate lenders, so you may be paying higher interest on a monthly basis."

Your credit score is a number between 300 and 900. Experts say the higher your score, the less of a risk you appear to banks and credit agencies.

You number is determined by: your payment history, the amount you owe against your credit limit, the length of your credit history, how much new credit you've applied for and the types of credit you hold.

Experts says even if people think their credit is in good standing it never hurts to check.

"It's important get the real answer and to know where you stand," says Posner. "Is there a collection item, an unpaid parking ticket? It's important you assess your situation."

In Manitoba, the amount of consumer debt, good or bad, stays on your credit report for seven years.

You can find more information about applying for your free credit report at Equifax Canada or Transunion