Credit is used in decisions regarding eligibility for loans, the cost of insurance premiums, and even employment and rental applications. A credit score is a calculation based on factors from your credit report at the time the score is requested. Generally, better credit terms are offered to consumers having higher credit scores. Every score can be improved—so take the steps needed to your score higher!
Highest and Lowest FICO Scores
The FICO score was created by Fair Isaac Corporation and it is the most common credit scoring system used. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. The higher your score the better; ideally keep working on improving your score until you reach 700 or higher. A lower score often results in paying more for the cost of credit and services; so it is worthwhile to know what your credit score is, the factors that influence it, and using strategies to improve your score.
(35%) Payment History: whether or not you make payments on time and in the correct amount
(30%) Debt Balances: combined total debt owed, outstanding balance compared to credit limit
(15%) Length of Time: when an account was opened and when it was last used
(10%) New Credit: number of inquiries, time since credit inquiry, new credit opened
(10%) Credit Type: mix of credit used, such as installment debt, revolving debt, consumer finance accounts
Credit Score Factors
FICO scores are based on a combination of five main kinds of credit information; some have more impact.
Key Strategies to Maintain and Improve Credit Scores
- Pay bills on time and before the due dates with at least minimum payments requested on billing statements.
- Keep debt balances below 30% of the credit limits, e.g. if you have a $1000 credit limit then keep the amount owed at $300 or less.
- Apply for and open new credit accounts and services only as needed.
- Know what is being reported and request your credit reports annually from Experian, Equifax, and Transunion through www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228. Credit reports are free once a year, but expect to pay a small fee for each score requested. Special note: obtaining your own credit report directly from a credit reporting agency will not affect your credit score.
- Check credit reports for errors and make corrections; and be sure to remove outdated negative information.
It takes time to improve credit scores, but it can be done. LSS Financial Counseling offers free Credit Report Review appointments to help you understand your credit report and to learn more strategies on improving credit scores - give us a call!
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