Your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your financial life. It’s a key factor that lenders look at when considering you for a loan or credit card. So how is your credit score calculated? Read on to find out.
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Your credit score is a number that reflects the risk you pose to lenders. It’s important because it’s used to determine whether you’re eligible for loans and lines of credit, and if so, what interest rate you’ll be charged. A higher score means you’re a lower risk, which could lead to lower interest rates and better loan terms.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a number that reflects the creditworthiness of a person at a particular point in time. Lenders use credit scores to evaluate an individual’s credit risk – that is, the likelihood that the person will default on a loan. The higher the score, the less likely it is that the person will default; the lower the score, the more likely it is that the person will default.
A credit score is not static; it can go up or down depending on an individual’s credit history. A variety of factors are used to calculate a credit score, including payment history, outstanding debt, length of credit history, and new credit inquiries.
What is a FICO score?
Your FICO score is a number that represents your creditworthiness. The higher your score, the better chance you have of getting approved for a loan or a credit card with favorable terms.
FICO scores are calculated using information from your credit report, including your payment history, the amount of debt you have, the length of your credit history and the types of credit you have.
There are several different scoring models in use today, but the most widely used is the FICO score, which was developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher your score, the better.
You can get a free copy of your FICO score from several sources, including some credit card issuers and personal finance websites.
The Five Components of a FICO Score
You’ve probably heard about your FICO score , but what exactly is it? And how is it calculated? A FICO score is a number that lenders use to help them decide whether to give you a loan and what interest rate to charge you. The five components of a FICO score are: payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, new credit, and credit mix.
One of the most important factors that lenders look at when considering a loan is your payment history. This includes whether you’ve made your payments on time, as well as any bankruptcies, foreclosures or other negative marks on your credit report. Payment history makes up 35 percent of your FICO score.
The “amounts owed” category is the second most important factor in your FICO score, accounting for 30% of the total. This category measures how much of your available credit you are using at any given time.
Your credit utilization ratio (CUR) is a key factor in this category. Your CUR is the percentage of your credit limit that you’re using at any given time. For example, if you have a $2,000 credit limit and carry a balance of $400, your CUR is 20%.
FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher your score, the better. To get a good sense of where you stand, you can check your free credit report summary on Credit.com to see what factors are impacting your score the most.
Length of credit history
15% of your FICO score is based on the length of your credit history
How long you’ve had credit accounts open and active is one factor that makes up your length of credit history. The average person has four active credit accounts, including two revolving credit lines (such as credit cards) and two installment loans (such as a mortgage or auto loan).
In general, a longer credit history will improve your score. But even if you haven’t been using credit for very long, there are things you can do to improve this part of your score.
For example, if you have student loans or medical bills in good standing, those can help show lenders that you’re capable of making regular, on-time payments — even if you don’t have a long history of doing so.
One component of your FICO score is “new credit.” This measures the number of new credit accounts you’ve opened and is worth 10% of your score.
Opening a bunch of new accounts in a short period of time can hurt your score. It might indicate to lenders that you’re struggling to keep up with your debts, which could make them less likely to give you new credit.
That’s why it’s generally not a good idea to open a bunch of new credit accounts in a short period of time, unless you’re planning to use them responsibly and pay off your balances in full every month.
The credit mix accounts for 10% of your FICO score. A good credit mix shows that you can manage different types of debt. The most common types of accounts are revolving lines of credit, such as credit cards, and installment loans, such as auto loans.
To calculate your credit mix, the Fair Isaac Corporation looks at the number of accounts you have and how they’re categorized. The scoring system gives more weight to revolving accounts because they require more management. You don’t have a set payment schedule for these debts, so it’s up to you to keep track of how much you owe and make sure you don’t exceed your credit limit. Installment loans are less risky because you have a set payment schedule, so lenders can predict with more accuracy how much debt you’ll be carrying month to month.
A diverse mix of both revolving and installment accounts is ideal, but don’t open new accounts simply to improve your credit mix. This could backfire and actually hurt your score if it causes you to carry too much debt or miss payments.
Other Factors That Affect Your Credit Score
Your credit score is very important. It is used by lenders to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for a loan. It is also used by landlords to determine if you are a good candidate for a rental property. There are a few things that you should know about your credit score and how it is calculated.
Inquiries are requests by a creditor to check your credit report. When you apply for credit, most creditors will request a copy of your report to help them decide whether or not to approve your application. Inquiries are also generated when you request your own credit report.
Each time an inquiry is made, it is recorded on your report and visible to anyone who checks your report. Inquiries stay on your report for two years and can impact your score for up to one year.
Multiple inquiries in a short period of time can be an indication that you’re looking for new credit and can lead creditors to believe you’re a higher risk. For this reason, it’s important to space out applications for new credit cards, loans, and other lines of credit. Aim for no more than one inquiry every six months.
Soft vs. hard inquiries
There are two types of inquiries that can occur on your credit report: hard and soft. A hard inquiry happens when you apply for new credit, such as a credit card or a loan. This type of inquiry will stay on your credit report for 24 months and will likely cause your score to drop by a few points. A soft inquiry happens when you check your own credit or when a company checks your credit for purposes other than granting you new credit (such as when you’re preapproved for new credit card offers). Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score.
An authorized user is someone who is allowed to use a credit card by the primary cardholder. The primary cardholder is financially responsible for paying the balance, but the authorized user can use the card to make purchases. Authorized users often have their own cards linked to the account, but this is not always the case.
Authorized users are not held financially responsible for the debt, but their credit scores can be impacted if the primary cardholder doesn’t make payments on time or carries a high balance. Authorized users can also benefit from the good payment history of the primary cardholder if the account is in good standing.
If you’re considering becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, make sure that you trust the person you’re becoming an authorized user for. Late payments and high balances can negatively impact your credit score, so it’s important to make sure that you’re comfortable with how the account will be managed. Second, check with the credit card issuer to see if authorized users are eligible for all of the same perks as the primary cardholder. Some issuers limit rewards or benefits to only those who are 21 or over, so it’s important to be aware of any potential limitations before you become an authorized user.
One common question we get is whether closed accounts hurt your credit score. The answer is, it depends.
If you have a history of good credit and close an account that you don’t use anymore, it probably won’t have much of an effect on your score. That’s because your payment history and credit utilization make up the largest percentage of your score (35% and 30%, respectively), and those factors aren’t affected by closing an account.
However, if you’re closing an account because you’re having trouble making payments, that could definitely hurt your score. That’s because your payment history is the most important factor in your score, and late or missed payments will damage your score more than anything else. So if you’re having trouble making payments on an account, it’s usually better to try to work something out with the lender rather than closing the account.
How to Check Your Credit Score
Your credit score is a number that represents your creditworthiness. It is used by lenders to determine whether you are a good candidate for a loan and what interest rate you will be offered. You can check your credit score for free from a number of sources. It is important to monitor your credit score so that you can take steps to improve it if necessary.
Get your free annual credit report
You are entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus every year. You can request all three reports at once, or space them out throughout the year. If you suspect identity theft, get all reports immediately.
Be sure to check all three reports for any mistakes or deliquencies [ delinquent: a debt that is overdue and unpaid ] that might lower your score. If you find any errors, dispute them with the credit bureau right away.
In addition to your free annual report, you can get your credit score from a number of sources, including your credit card statement or online.
Check your credit score for free with Credit Sesame
Your credit score is a three-digit number that represents your creditworthiness. A higher score means you’re a lower-risk borrower, which could qualify you for better rates on credit cards and loans. You can check your credit score for free with Credit Sesame to see where you currently stand.
There are several factors that go into calculating your credit score, including:
-Payment history: Do you always pay your bills on time? Any late or missed payments will negatively impact your score.
-Credit utilization: This is the amount of debt you have compared to your credit limit. The lower the better. A good rule of thumb is to keep your utilization below 30%.
-Length of credit history: A longer history usually equals a better score.
-Credit mix: A variety of types of debt, such as revolving (credit cards) and installment (loans), is looked upon favorably by lenders.
-New credit: Opening several new accounts in a short period of time can signal to lenders that you’re inexperienced with borrowing or that you’re in financial distress.
How to Improve Your Credit Score
Your credit score is very important. It is used by lenders to determine whether or not to give you a loan. It is also used by landlords to determine whether or not to give you a lease. There are a few things that you can do to improve your credit score.
Pay your bills on time
One of the most important things you can do to improve your credit score is to pay your bills on time. Payment history is one of the biggest factors that impact your score, so even if you have a low credit limit or balance, making timely payments can help improve your score over time. You can set up automatic payments with your creditors to make sure you never miss a payment.
Keep your balances low
One of the most important things you can do to improve your credit score is to keep your balances low. Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of debt you have divided by the amount of credit you have available, and it accounts for 30% of your credit score. To keep your ratios low, aim to keep your balances below 30% of your credit limits, and ideally below 10%.
Use credit cards wisely
One of the easiest ways to improve your credit score is to use your credit cards wisely. That means using them for the things you need and not for the things you want. It also means not using them to their full limit every month.
If you can pay your credit card balance in full every month, that’s great. But if you can’t, try to keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit. This is called your credit utilization ratio, and it’s one of the biggest factors in your credit score.
You can also improve your credit score by paying your bills on time, every time. That includes all of your bills, not just your credit card bill. Student loans, car loans, utility bills, and even rent can be reported to the credit bureaus. So, if you’re paying all of your bills on time, you’ll start to see your score go up.
Limit your applications for new credit
The credit scoring model will take into account how many times you’ve applied for new credit in the past two years. Every time you apply for a new credit card,loan or other type of account, the potential lender will check your credit report. This process is called a hard inquiry, and will temporarily lower your score by a few points. So, if you’re planning on applying for new credit in the near future, it’s best to limit the number of applications you make.