There’s a lot of information to keep track of when it comes to knowing and understanding your credit score. Many Americans know what their credit score is, but they aren’t always aware of some other important information regarding their score.
Here are five things most people don’t know about their credit score:
- There are 5 factors that impact your credit score.
There are five factors that are accounted for when your credit score is calculated. Each factor makes up a specific portion of the calculation that makes your credit score. While these vary by reporting agency, factors and estimated percentage of your score include: payment history (35%), account balances (30%), credit history length (15%), types of credit (10%) and credit inquiries (10%).
Your payment history shows whether or not you’ve consistently paid your bills on time. Your credit utilization is the amount of your credit limit that you use, which includes all your available accounts across various financial institutions. When it comes to your credit history length, this is referring to the length of time that you’ve had credit, and the longer the better. The types of credit you have include a mix of different kinds of installment and credit card accounts. Finally, “hard” credit inquiries will affect your credit score but “soft” credit inquiries will not (see below for more detail).
While these two terms are related to one another, they are not interchangeable. Your credit score is a number on a scale that typically ranges from 300 to 850 (and up to 900 on some scales) that is calculated based on the information on your credit report. Your credit report is a breakdown of information from the five factors discussed above.
Your credit utilization ratio is your overall credit balance in comparison to your credit limits, also known as debt-to-limit. It is how close you are to using all of your credit across various cards and loans. If you have a high credit utilization ratio, this could cause your credit score to drop. According to experts, your credit utilization ratio should stay below 30%.
- You probably have more than one credit score.
You may have more than one credit score simply because there are three different national credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each of these credit reporting bureaus may have slightly different information in your credit history, making your recorded credit score slightly different for each.
There is a difference between “hard” and “soft” credit inquiries. When you check your credit score yourself, it is considered a soft credit inquiry, and no damage is done to your credit score. It is when you make hard credit inquiries that your credit score can be negatively affected. A hard inquiry is a request to check your credit, such as applying for credit, including a mortgage, student loan, credit card or auto loan. Hard credit inquiries stay on your record for 24 months and will take a few points off your credit score each time an inquiry is made. However, although the hard inquiry will stay on your record for 24 months, it stops affecting your credit score after a year.
Now that you know more facts about your credit score, take some time to review your credit and understand your own credit situation. Please call us at 800.448.9228 (Wisconsin) or 312.491.7000 (Chicago) if you have questions or would like one of our team members to review your financial situation and make recommendations to help you maintain or improve your credit score.