Factors That Affect Your Credit Score: What You Need to Know

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The credibility that determines your financial trustworthiness is known as your credit score. It is a three-digit number that lenders, landlords, and even employers often use to gauge your fiscal well-being. Your credit score can impact your eligibility for loans, credit cards, housing, and sometimes, even your job. Given its importance, it is beneficial to understand the factors that can affect your credit score.

1. Payment History

Your payment history is the largest single factor that affects your credit score, constituting approximately 35% of it. This includes the punctuality and consistency of your payments on credit cards, mortgages, and loans. Late or missed payments will negatively impact your credit score. The negative impact is proportional to how late the payment was, how much was owed, how recently the late payment was, and how many late payments are on record. On the other hand, a record of on-time payments will positively affect your credit score.

2. Credit Utilization Rate

Your credit utilization rate is the ratio of your total credit card balances to your total credit card limits, and it impacts 30% of your credit score. Generally, keeping this rate below 30% is advisable as a higher percentage could indicate that you’re over-relying on credit, which can negatively impact your score. For instance, if your credit card limit is $10,000, you should aim to keep your balance below $3,000.

3. Length of Credit History

The length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your credit score. This considers how long you’ve had credit accounts open, including the age of your oldest account, the age of your newest account, and the average age of all your accounts. A longer credit history provides more information about your spending and payment habits, hence potentially improving your credit score.

4. Credit Mix

The types of credit you’ve taken on over your history account for 10% of your credit score. This includes credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage loans, and others. A healthy mix of different types of credit can have a positive impact on your credit score as it indicates experience in managing a variety of credit products.

5. New Credit

Every time you apply for a new line of credit, a hard inquiry is added to your credit report, adding up to 10% of your credit score. A hard inquiry occurs when a lender checks your credit history, usually when you’re applying for a loan, credit card, or mortgage. Multiple hard inquiries in a short period can negatively impact your credit score as it indicates high-risk behavior. However, these inquiries only remain on your credit report for two years.

6. Public Records

Bankruptcies, tax liens, foreclosures, lawsuits, and other public-record information can significantly decrease your credit score. These usually stay on your credit report for seven to ten years. However, their impact diminishes over time, especially when countered with positive credit behavior.

7. Total Debt

The total amount of debt you owe, including credit cards, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, and, other loans, impact your credit score. High debt amounts can negatively affect your credit score. Therefore, it is advisable to manage and reduce your debt consistently.

8. Collection Accounts

When you default on a debt, your lender might sell it to a collections agency, who will then attempt to recover the money from you. This is recorded on your credit report and can stay there for seven years, negatively affecting your credit score.

Understanding these factors can help you maintain or enhance your credit score. It is important to build and maintain good habits, like making on-time payments, maintaining low balances, and only opening new credit lines when necessary. Regularly checking your credit report for inaccuracies is also crucial. Remember, a good credit score is your passport to financial opportunities.

Credit Score
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