A credit score is a numerical expression that represents an individual’s creditworthiness. It’s based on a statistical analysis of the individual’s credit files, primarily sourced from credit bureaus.
The most commonly used type of credit score in the United States is the FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score, which ranges from 300 (indicating very high risk) to 850 (indicating very low risk). Other credit scores include the VantageScore, and each score has a slightly different scoring model.
Several factors contribute to the calculation of a credit score, including:
Payment History: This refers to the punctuality and regularity of your previous repayments. Late payments or defaults will negatively affect your credit score.
Credit Utilization: This is the ratio of your current outstanding balances to your credit limits. High utilization indicates a higher risk and can lower your credit score.
Length of Credit History: The longer your credit history, the better it is for your credit score, as it allows for more accurate predictions of future behavior.
Credit Mix: This refers to the different types of credit you have, such as credit cards, mortgages, car loans, etc. A diverse credit mix is often beneficial to your credit score.
New Credit Inquiries: Each time you apply for a new line of credit, an inquiry is made on your credit file. Multiple inquiries in a short period can negatively impact your credit score.
Lenders, landlords, insurance companies, and even some employers use credit scores to assess an individual’s financial stability and reliability. A higher credit score often results in more favorable loan terms, while a lower score can make it difficult to secure credit, housing, or sometimes even employment.