What Makes Up a Credit Score?
This article was recently published in CommunityAmerica's "Let's Talk Money" section of the Kansas City Star.
As we shared in our recent blog – What is Credit? – having a basic understanding of credit, along with how your actions can impact your score, is crucial to starting your journey to a better credit score. In this blog, we’re breaking down the specifics of what exactly makes up a credit score, so you know what areas to focus on.
What Makes Up a Credit Score
Your credit score is determined by a variety of factors. Here's how it breaks down:
Payment History – 35%
The most important factor in your credit score includes account payment information, adverse public records and the amount of any delinquent accounts or past due items. Making consistent, on-time payments can help you maintain this portion of your credit score. In fact, missed or late payments can stay on your credit record for 7 years, so consider setting up automatic payments or payment reminder alerts.
Amounts Owed – 30%
Also called credit utilization, this slice of your score consists of outstanding balances on your accounts and the proportion of your balances to your total credit limit. As a rule of thumb, aim to use less than 30% of your available credit. For example, if you have a credit limit of $10,000, try to keep your balances at $3,000 or below at any given time. Beyond its impacts to your score, maintaining lower balances can also help in case of emergencies and ensures you don’t overspend on credit.
Length of Credit History – 15%
This piece of the credit score puzzle represents the amount of time since account opening. You should be mindful if you're looking to cancel a credit card, to choose one you've had the least amount of time. If you close a credit account with a positive history you've had for a longer period of time, it may cut your credit history short and negatively impact your score.
Type of Credit – 10%
The total number of various types of accounts makes up this part of your credit score. Once you've gained some experience and are comfortable managing your credit, try to diversify your credit lines. Utilizing different types of credit, from student and auto loans to mortgages and credit cards, can help give your score a boost.
New Credit – 10%
The final piece includes the number of recently opened accounts and recent inquiries. Every time you apply for or open a new loan or credit card it causes a hard inquiry, which can create a slight drop in your score. Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years so be strategic about when you open new types of credit to avoid applying too frequently.
To find out where your credit stands, you can request a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. It's a good idea to do so annually to make sure your report is accurate and doesn't contain any errors or fraudulent activity.
More than a Score
There’s no denying the significance of credit, but it’s also important to remember that your score is not the end all be all for your financial health. Other important areas like budgeting, saving, and investing all contribute to your financial outlook. Always keep the big picture in mind and know that your credit is only one indicator of your overall financial well-being!
If you have questions about your credit history, building credit, or would like to meet with a CommunityAmerica representative to discuss your financial picture in general, contact a certified Well-Being Coach today, or visit your nearest branch.