Credit Scores

What affects my credit score?

A credit score is very much like a score you would get on a test - you get points for everything positive and points taken away for everything negative.

Most credit scores can range from 300 to 900 points, and like a test score, the higher your credit rating, the better. There are a number of factors that can affect your credit score positively or negatively.

Things that affect your credit score positively:

  • Paying your bills on time and in full.
  • Using 25 percent or less of your available credit. Ideally, you should carry a balance of no more than $2,500 if your credit limit is $10,000.
  • Steady employment. People who are steadily employed are viewed as being better able to pay their bills on time.

Things that affect your credit score negatively:

  • Late or missed payments
  • Using more than 80 percent of your total amount of available credit
  • Bankruptcy
  • Liens or foreclosures
  • Periods of unemployment
  • Too many requests for new lines of credit

Main Factors That Affect Your Credit Score

  • Your payment history. The most important factor to a potential lender is whether or not you will pay your bills in full and on time. The more recent your good (or bad) payment history, the more important it will be for your credit score.
  • Your outstanding debt. The more credit cards you have that are maxed out, the lower your score will be. As mentioned above, try to keep your credit card balances at 25 percent or less of your limits.
  • The length of time you've been building credit. The longer your credit history, the higher your credit rating.
  • The number of inquiries on your credit report. The more times you've applied for credit cards or loans, the more credit report inquiries will show up on your credit report. A higher number of credit report inquiries may indicate that you're struggling financially or may have a lot of debt (even if you never used the cards or gotten the loans).

For more information on the factors that can affect your credit score or to find out how to obtain a copy of your FREE credit score, 3 in 1 credit report, or ID Theft insurance, visit