Your credit score: let’s break it down. As teased at the end of 5 Ways to Maintain a Good Credit Score, there are five umbrella factors that affect your credit score. In this post, we will take a deeper dive into each of these factors, with tips for supportive good habits.
35% Payment History
Making up over a third of your total credit score, your payment history is the most influential piece of your credit score puzzle. Payment history includes how timely you have made payments to credit accounts, including credit cards, auto loans, retail credit and mortgages. Although a late payment here and there won’t tank your score, small misses along the way can add up to a larger hit on an otherwise healthy score.
Keep your history healthy:
- Conduct an audit of all open lines of credit and get caught up on any late payments.
- Make a monthly calendar with all loan payment due dates, including reminders for day-of.
- When applicable, remove the risk of forgetting by setting up auto-pay.
- Dedicate a pool of savings each month just to paying off lines of credit.
- Reach out to creditors and see if lowering your interest rates is possible.
30% Amount Owed
The amount you owe includes five factors: the amount owed across all accounts, the amount owed on different types of accounts, how many accounts have balances, credit utilization ratio on revolving accounts and installment loan amount versus the original loan amount. Although each of these are nuanced in how they affect that 30%, all add up to one thing: making sure frequent payments are being made for all accounts to minimize how much you owe.
Keep it low:
- Set up a monthly budget dedicated to chipping away at debt such as student loans, mortgages, etc.
- Make sure the outstanding amount on your credit card is always below 20% of your credit limit.
- Make frequent payments to open accounts, avoiding missing due dates at all costs.
- Pay more than the minimum requirement, when possible.
15% Length of Credit History
When calculating your credit score, FICO looks at your Average Age of Accounts, or the average length of your credit history. This means how long you have held lines of credit. Why do they care? Because a longer credit history proves that accounts have been opened with lines of credit used before, showing that the loaner is familiar with the credit process and more likely to make payments on time. And, as younger people enter the credit world and begin to open their first accounts, multiple lines of credit are usually opened at once like auto loans, student loans and more. For many, the six year mark is when people truly get a grasp on their credit, with many of these items paid off or close to it, and their credit score is more reflective of their habits, rather than circumstances. So, whether you’re helping a younger friend or just starting to establish credit, the tips below can help anyone’s credit history age gracefully.
- Get a secure credit card as soon as you can to start building credit.
- Get a credit builder loan to help establish your first line of credit.
- Ask someone to make you an authorized user on their credit card so you can begin to build credit with support.
- If you need to open a line of credit but haven’t built any, get a cosigner.
10% New Credit.
Did you know that every time you apply to a new line of credit, something called a hard inquiry is initiated? This is a full audit of your credit, and with each hard inquiry, five points are deducted from your total credit score. Although this may not sound like a lot and only affect your score for twelve months, opening multiple lines of credit at once can slam your score with a lot of hits, making a bigger impact than expected. We know that opening lines of credit leads to the building of healthy credit, but practicing strategic habits when planning account openings can help you spread out the impact of hard inquiries.
Keep it fresh, and infrequent:
- Plan out what lines of credit may need to be opened in the near future.
- Make a five year plan: how can you space your openings out within a five year period?
- Keep it to a maximum of three hard inquiries a year, if possible.
10% Types of Credit Used.
When it comes to credit, we love diversity. When requesting loans, people want to know that you are comfortable upholding multiple lines of credit – with the ability to juggle all accounts with minimal late payments. This could mean opening a new credit card along with the auto loan you just opened, or adding a new credit card to the mix when you already have one. The key is to diversify and keep balances low – proving you are dynamic and trustworthy with your investments.
Keep it diverse:
- Have a healthy mix of installment and revolving credit.
- If you only have one line of credit, consider opening a new card to diversify your portfolio.
- Keep open accounts healthy with frequent payments, going above the minimum requirements when possible.
We know this all seems like a lot for a single score, but a healthy credit score can help you access better loans, insurance options and even car and home opportunities as you enter the next stages of life. But, guess what? You are in no way alone in this credit journey. We know that life happens and Platinum Resolutions is always here to help you restore your score and provide guidance to get you back on track.
For advice, questions or anything else you need as you continue your credit journey, call (832) 872 1057 or email email@example.com.