A credit score is an extremely important financial tool. It provides access to the financing you need in order to buy a car, a home, or pay for college tuition, among other things. Since higher scores equate to lower costs and vice versa, it's vital to understand the factors involved in calculating your score. Here are the five elements that make up a credit score, in order of importance:
Payment History: 35% impact. Paying debt on time and in full has a positive impact. Late payments, judgments, and charge-offs have a negative impact. Missing a high
payment has a more serious impact than missing a low payment. Delinquencies that have occurred in the last two years carry more weight than older items.
When applying for a mortgage, every point in your credit score can make a big difference. So
don't make any major financial or credit decisions even paying off an old debt or delinquency
without first discussing it with your mortgage professional.
Outstanding Credit Balances: 30% impact. This factor marks the ratio between the outstanding balance and available credit. Ideally, consumers should make an effort to keep balances as close to zero as possible, and definitely below 30% of the available credit limit when trying to purchase a home.
Credit History: 15% impact. This marks the length of time since a particular credit line wasestablished. A seasoned borrower is stronger in this area.
Type of Credit: 10% impact. A mix of auto loans, credit cards, and mortgages is more positive
than a concentration of debt from credit cards alone.
Inquiries: 10% impact. This quantifies the number of inquiries (or requests for credit) that have
been made on a consumer's credit history within a six month period. Each individual inquiry can
cost from 2 to 50 points on a credit score, but the maximum number of inquiries that will reduce the score is 10. In other words, don't start the loan process until you're ready to act. Otherwise each individual credit inquiry could cost you. However, scoring models have now been adjusted to count multiple "hard" inquiries within a 14-day period as a single request. So, when you're ready, your credit will be too.
It's true, negative credit items can remain on your credit report for up to 7 years (up to 10 years for a bankruptcy). But this doesn't mean that you have to wait 7 to 10 years to begin
reestablishing a good credit rating. Because credit scoring models typically lend more weight to
your recent activity than to the mistakes you might've made in the past, you can change your
habits right now and begin reestablishing yourself as a good credit risk for a home loan or
mortgage refinance in just 6 to 12 months.
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