What do credit agencies look for in calculating your credit score – and how do they actually figure out your score? It’s an insider’s game, and the more you know how the insiders work, the better off you’ll be.
Here are the criteria credit agencies use, and how to leverage that information to your benefit.
First of all, gone are the days when companies use credit scores only to figure out whether you’re a good risk for a new car, credit car or home. Nowadays, the use of credit scores has become more widespread. For instance, many employers use credit reports to gauge a job applicant’s quality of character.
Similarly, a lousy credit history could get you rejected for a government security clearance. Even renting a home can trigger a credit review – landlords increasingly use credit reports as a barometer of a tenant’s financial health.
It stands to reason that with so much on the line, the more you know about your credit score, the better equipped you’ll be to take steps and raise your score to maximum levels.The key to understanding credit scores is to figure out how they’re calculated.
Payment history. Whether or not you make bill payments on time could be the most significant factor in calculating your credit score. Any delinquencies or collection agency notices will drive your score downward. Note also that the longer your missed payments (example 60- or 90-days late in paying your mortgage, as opposed to 30-days late) the lower your credit score.
Debt burden. Credit agency scoring models also rely heavily on the amount of debt you owe weighed against any maximum credit limits. For example, bumping up against the maximum limits on your credit card is considered a big negative by credit agency analysts. But if you keep your credit cad balance at less than 30% of your credit card limit, that’s considered an indicator of judicial credit use and will lower your credit score.Credit history. It’s usually a good idea to keep your oldest credit accounts open, even if you’re not using them. Why? Because the longer your credit history, the bigger the boost to your credit score. Credit agency analysts take a dim view of consumers with a short credit history – it’s an invitation for a “rejected” stamp on your credit request.