Your Credit Score Explained

Your credit score holds immense power when it comes to your financial well-being. Whether you want to secure a loan or apply for a credit card, the digits on your credit report will determine your eligibility and interest rates. Here, we delve into the nitty-gritty of credit scores, including what they are, how they work, and what you can do to boost them.

What is a Credit Score?

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A credit score is a three-digit number that represents your creditworthiness. Lenders and creditors use your credit score to determine your likelihood of repaying your debts on time. Your credit score is calculated based on information in your credit report, which includes details about your credit history, such as your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and new credit inquiries.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with a higher score indicating better creditworthiness. Typically, a credit score above 700 is considered good, while a score below 600 is considered poor.

How is a Credit Score Calculated?

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The calculation of credit scores relies on a formula created by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), which happens to be the most extensively employed credit scoring system. The formula takes into account five main factors:

  1. Payment History: The most crucial aspect of your credit score, accounting for 35%, is your payment history. This component assesses whether you have paid your bills on time, how late you were if you missed a payment, and if you have any delinquencies or collections.
  2. Credit Utilization: Your credit utilization ratio is a critical factor in determining your creditworthiness. It measures how much of your available credit you use and is calculated by dividing your credit card balance by your credit limit. Lenders prefer borrowers who use less than 30% of their available credit as it indicates that they are not overextended and can manage their debts responsibly. Keeping your credit utilization low is not only important for your credit score but also for your financial health. A high credit utilization ratio can lead to a cycle of debt, making it difficult to pay off your balance in full each month. It can also result in higher interest charges and fees, which can add up over time.
  3. Length of Credit History: This makes up 15% of your credit score. It looks at how long you have had credit accounts open and the age of your oldest account. Generally, the longer your credit history, the better.
  4. Types of Credit: Lenders take into account the variety of credit types you have when considering your creditworthiness. This component accounts for 10% of your credit score and evaluates your credit cards, loans, mortgages, and other types of credit. A mix of credit is preferred as it demonstrates your ability to handle different forms of debt.
  5. New Credit Inquiries: The number of new credit inquiries you have made recently is taken into account, making up 10% of your credit score. However, be careful not to make too many inquiries as it can have a negative impact on your score.

How Can You Improve Your Credit Score?

If your credit score is lower than you would like, there are several steps you can take to improve it:

  1. Pay your bills on time: Your payment history is the most important factor in determining your credit score. Make sure to pay all of your bills on time and in full.

  2. Reduce your credit utilization: Try to keep your credit utilization below 30% of your available credit limit. This shows lenders that you are not overextended and can manage your credit responsibly.

  3. Keep your credit accounts open: The length of your credit history is an important factor in your credit score. Don't close your oldest credit accounts, even if you don't use them regularly.

  4. Don't apply for too much credit at once: Too many credit inquiries can negatively impact your credit score. Only apply for credit when you need it.

  5. Check your credit report for errors: Mistakes can happen, and errors on your credit report can negatively impact your score. Make sure to check your report regularly and dispute any errors you find.

In conclusion, your credit score is a critical factor in your financial life. By understanding what goes into your credit score and taking steps to improve it, you can increase your chances of being approved for loans and credit cards, and potentially save thousands of dollars in interest charges.

If you need further explanation or want to dive deeper into understanding your credit score, simply schedule an appointment at one of our nearby branches. Our team of Member Experience Specialists is always ready to assist you.