Know your score!
Like a credit report, a FICO® score helps creditors determine your creditworthiness. In most cases, in order for a score to be calculated, you must have at least one account that has been open for six months or more and at least one account that has been updated within the past six months.
What is a FICO® Score?
In the 1980’s, Fair Isaac and Company developed a standardized approach to credit-scoring, known today as a FICO® score. A FICO® score is a three-digit credit score, ranging from 300 to 850, that helps a creditor evaluate your credit risk - the higher your score, the better risk the creditor considers you to be.
What factors influence your FICO® score?
A FICO® score incorporates five components of your credit history:
- Payment history (35% of score)
- Amounts owed/Outstanding debt (30% of score)
- Length of credit history (15% of score)
- Acquiring new credit (10% of score)
- Types of credit used (10% of score)
Five Ways You Can Improve Your FICO® Score:
- Make your payments on time as a history of late payments lowers your score.
- Do not sign up for new, unnecessary credit cards. Although additional cards provide you with greater availability of credit, most likely they will not raise your score.
- Try to keep your account balances low because high outstanding debt can raise your score. Try to not exceed 30% - 40% of available credit in order to maximize your FICO® score.
- Do not apply for several new credit cards at once. Many inquiries will appear on your report and affect your score.
- Work on paying off your debt rather than just moving it around. Owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts can lower your score if those accounts are maxed out.
How to Get Your FICO® Score
If you have recently applied for some form of credit (i.e., a car loan, a credit card, a student loan), ask the creditor for a copy of your FICO® score. You may also purchase your FICO® score by visiting myfico.com.