How to keep your credit card from hurting your FICO score

50 million credit cardholders have had their credit card limits slashed or closed in the last 30 days. That's one in four, according to LendingTree.  

That can not only limit your ability to use your card, but it can also hurt your credit score.

LendingTree also reports 30% of cardholders need to use them more than ever right now.

If you've been late making credit card payments, your credit limit may have been slashed without much notice.

Nathan Grant with Credit Card Insider warns that going over your new limit could cost you fees.

"So if it's been lowered and you charged something over it, you'll get those fees and your minimum payment will increase,"  said Grant.

And if you carry a balance, the lower limit raises your debt-to-limit ratio. Spending more than 30% of your credit limit can start to hurt your credit score.

Rather than pay late, Grant suggests asking for a payment deferral.

"Contact your issuers immediately to see if they have any relief efforts that could help you get back on track. Because right now the good news is a lot of issuers are doing things, usually on a case by case basis," said Grant.

In another recent survey, LendingTree also found women are half as likely as men to ask their card issuers for help.

"That's unfortunate because there's been a lot written about women's financial hardships and the truth is that an awful lot of women have a much smaller margin for error than men do," said Matt Schultz with LendingTree.

So don't be afraid to ask. LendingTree says more than 90% of people who ask for a break get one.

"It can make a really big difference if you are able to skip a credit card payment, or mortgage payment, for a couple of months. That can be several hundred dollars that you no longer have to worry about," Schultz said.

Here are more steps you can take:

Ask your credit card issuer to raise your limit back up or ask another card to raise your limit.

Use a card you don't use much, even for small monthly bills, to keep it active.

Transfer your balance to a 0% or low-interest card if you can.
Try to at least make minimum payments.  

If you're looking for a job, hurting your credit score can hurt your chances of being hired.

Credit Card Insider has listed what many major credit card issuers are doing to help customers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic here: