Credit Score = You Can Calculate It Yourself

In the US, your credit rating is extremely important. Having a good score opens doors for you and an unsatisfactory score will slam them in your face. Your credit score actually represents the risk that the lender assumes in order to loan you money and determines how big your loan can be. So what are the factors that help calculate credit scores?

Credit Score

1. Payment history. The record of payments you have made to all of your creditors is the biggest factor (35% of your score) that’s taken into consideration when figuring out your credit rating. It doesn’t take much to lower your rating. Even late payments take their toll. Of course, missed payments and defaults on debts will make a bigger mark. Any bad marks on your credit report will stay there for seven years, with generally no exception. Even if you’ve paid off the debt, it will most likely not be erased from your report until the 7-year period is up.

2. Credit card usage ratio. Your credit card usage ratio (30% of your score) compares the amount of credit you have available to you to the amount you are using. Your score is better (higher) if you are not using all of your credit. If you think that paying off an account and closing it is a good idea, think again. That could actually drop your score in this department. The best solution is to have several accounts open and not use all of them. This is viewed upon as an advantage by potential lenders.

3. Credit history length. How long you have been using credit is another issue when it comes to how to calculate credit scores–it accounts for about 15% of the total. Again, if you remember that your credit score is what lenders are looking at to determine your loan eligibility, you can understand why this is important. They tend to view someone who has long credit history and a few marks against him/her as more favorable than someone with a short, perfect credit history. This is a good reason to have your kids start making credit history early (and in a responsible way with your guidance).

4. Credit variety. This makes up about 10% of your score. Believe it or not, it helps your score if you have many types of debt (credit cards, mortgage, car loans, etc).

5. Your stability. This includes how long you’ve been at your job, how solid the job is and how long you’ve been living at your current address. If you’ve been at your address for less than three years, this is viewed as less than stable.

Now you know what factors are used to calculate credit scores. Understanding them is important because it allows you to take action on certain aspects that you have the power to change. Hopefully you can use these guidelines to establish good credit or bring your current credit score up a notch or two.

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