What Five Factors Make Up Your FICO Credit Score?

Unsecured Personal Loan

[Photo Credit: Flickr / Gotcredit.com]

When it comes to credit scores, the FICO score is the model used by the majority of banks and by those that grant credit. The score range for FICO is from 300 to 850, with a higher the score, the better.

A consumer has three FICO scores, with one coming from each credit report provided by the three major credit bureaus. These three bureaus are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Each of these bureaus will report a slightly different score, but all should give a good representation of your credit history.

A breakdown is below of the 5 factors that make up this FICO score.

Payment History – 35 percent

Your payment history is the most important factor in your credit score. This section focuses on whether or not you can be trusted to repay money that is lent to you.

Paying your bills late has a negative effect on your score. The number of days you are late to pay your bills will determine how much of an impact it will have on your score. If you were 30 days late, the negative impact would be less than if you were 60 or 90 days late.

If you have any collections, debt settlements, bankruptcies, charge offs, liens, foreclosures, or judgments against you, these will damage your credit score worse than a simple late payment would.

In all situations, the older the event, the less likely it will impact your credit score. Your best bet is to have as good of a payment history as possible.

Amounts Owed / Credit Utilization – 30 percent

The amount of available credit you are currently using is the second most important factor in your credit score.

FICO views borrowers who max out their credit cards or are close to credit card limits as borrowers who may not be able to handle their debt responsibly. Maintaining a credit utilization ratio of 10 to 20 percent or less is something to strive for, on the overall level of debt as well as each individual card.

Owing some money is seen as better than owing nothing, though, since lenders want to see that when you borrow money, you are responsible in paying it back. Having a mix of multiple types of credit is also beneficial.

Length of Credit History – 15 percent

How long you have been using credit is another factor. FICO takes into account how long all of your credit accounts have been established, such as the age of your newest account, oldest account, and average age of all accounts.

Those without a long credit history can improve their credit score by continuing to use their credit, while those with a long history should maintain long-standing accounts.

Types of Credit Used – 10 percent

Something beneficial to your score is having a history of managing all different types of credit.

Some different types of credit include store accounts, credit cards, installment loans, and mortgages.

Showing that you are able to repay debt in a variety of categories will usually mean that you represent less risk for lenders.

New Credit – 10 percent

How many new accounts you have applied for recently will impact your score. Borrowers should be weary of opening too many credit lines at once (even if you don’t have a long credit history), as this behavior may suggest the borrower may be in financial trouble and needs access to a lot of credit.

The number of recent inquiries a lender has made to view your credit report and the length of time it has been since this inquiry was made can also impact your credit, though the impact is small.