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Understanding Credit Scores and Reports


Credit scores and reports are essential components of our financial lives. They impact our ability to get loans, rent apartments, and even land jobs. In this newsletter, we will explore what credit scores and reports are, how they are calculated, and why they matter.


What is a Credit Report?

A credit report is a record of your current

and past debts, including your payment history. It is used by banks, other financial institutions, and businesses to make decisions about your loan, rent, and even employment applications. Credit reporting agencies compile the information from these different sources to create your credit report. A good website to order your credit report for free is AnnualCreditReport.com.


What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a number based on information available in your credit report. You actually have more than one credit score, because different credit reporting agencies calculate your score differently. Generally, your scores are similar, but typically not identical. Credit scores also change over time as your credit report is updated with new information. The most widely used credit score is the FICO score.


Credit scores typically range from 300 to 850, and a good credit score range varies depending on the credit scoring model. Here are some common credit score ranges:

  1. FICO Score: A good FICO score is between 670 and 739.

  2. VantageScore 3.0: A good VantageScore 3.0 is between 661 and 780.

  3. Equifax Credit Score: A good Equifax credit score is between 670 and 739.

  4. TransUnion Credit Score: A good TransUnion credit score is between 680 and 739.

Generally, a credit score of 670 or above is considered good, while a score of 800 or above is considered excellent. A score below 580 is considered poor, while a score between 580 and 669 is considered fair


How do credit scores are computed?


Credit scores are calculated using information from credit reports by credit scoring algorithms like FICO and VantageScore. The main factors that affect credit scores are payment history, credit utilization, and length of credit history


Here is a breakdown of how credit scores are calculated:

  1. Payment history (35%): This factor considers whether you have made payments on time, how late any missed payments were, and how many accounts have been sent to collections.

  2. Credit utilization (30%): This factor considers the amount of credit you are using compared to your credit limit, also known as your credit utilization ratio.

  3. Length of credit history (15%): This factor considers how long you have had credit accounts open and the age of your oldest account.

  4. New credit (10%): This factor considers how many new credit accounts you have opened recently and how many credit inquiries you have.

  5. Credit mix (10%): This factor considers the types of credit accounts you have, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages.


Why Do Credit Scores and Reports Matter?


Credit scores and reports are used by lenders and other businesses to assess your creditworthiness. A good credit score can open doors to opportunities such as lower interest rates on loans, better credit card offers, and even better job opportunities. On the other hand, a poor credit score can limit your options and make it more difficult to achieve your financial goals.


What are some common factors that negatively impact credit scores?


  1. Late or missed payments: Late or missed payments can have a significant impact on your credit score.

  2. Collection accounts: Having accounts sent to collections can negatively impact your credit score.

  3. High account balances: High balances on credit accounts, such as credit cards, can negatively impact your credit score.

  4. High credit utilization: Having a high credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit you are using compared to your credit limit, can negatively impact your credit score.

  5. Short credit history: A short credit history can negatively impact your credit score, as lenders may not have enough information to assess your creditworthiness.

  6. Too many accounts with balances: Having too many accounts with balances can negatively impact your credit score

Tips for Maintaining a Good Credit Score:

Maintaining a good credit score is important for achieving financial goals and accessing

credit at favorable terms. Here are some tips for maintaining a good credit score:


  1. Pay your bills on time: Late payments can have a significant impact on your credit score. Set up automatic payments or reminders to help ensure you don't miss a payment.

  2. Keep your credit utilization low: Try to keep your credit card balances below 30% of your credit limit. Paying off balances in full each month can help keep credit utilization low.

  3. Monitor your credit report: Check your credit report regularly for errors and fraudulent activity. You can order a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

  4. Limit new credit applications: Too many credit applications in a short period of time can negatively impact your credit score. Only apply for credit when you need it and space out applications.

  5. Keep old credit accounts open: The length of your credit history is a factor in your credit score, so keeping old accounts open can be beneficial. However, if an account has an annual fee or you don't use it, it may make sense to close it.

Maintain a good credit score and improve your chances of accessing credit at favorable terms. Always remember to check your credit report regularly and take steps to correct any errors or fraudulent activity.

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