A credit score is a 3-digit number that reflects the likelihood that a consumer will repay their debts. Credit scores typically range from 300-850. Lenders use credit scores to determine the risk involved in making a loan, the terms of the loan, and the interest rate. The higher your score, the better the terms of a loan will be for you.
Each of the three main credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — keep credit information about you that is used to calculate your credit scores. This includes your payment history, the amount of money you owe, the length of your credit history, and the number of recently opened credit accounts.
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View your score and understand how your financial choices will affect your credit scores with an easy-to-use FICO® Credit Score Simulator.
How Is A Credit Score Calculated?
Your credit score is fluid. Every time you apply for, use, make, or miss a payment on a loan or credit card, you build another entry on your credit report, which in turn raises or lowers your credit score.
Below are the five main variables that help define your credit score and the weight each one bares:
Payment History 35%
If you make payments on time every month and don’t have negative public records for lawsuits, liens, bankruptcies, or foreclosure, you will do well in this category. Late payments are a negative. The later the payment — a month versus a week – the more your score gets penalized.
Credit Utilization 30%
Your credit utilization ratio measures the amount of debt you owe: the lower your credit utilization percentage, the better. A low credit utilization shows that you're only using a small amount of the credit that's been loaned to you.
Credit History 15%
A long credit history will help your score. Credit scores are based on experience over time. Your score will improve the longer you have credit, open different types of accounts, and pay back what you owe on time.
Credit Mix 10%
Credit mix represents how many forms of credit you have (credit cards, auto, mortgage, utilities, etc., and how well you keep up with them. For a healthy credit score, it can often be helpful to have various credit cards and loans on your credit report. But don’t apply for too much credit too fast. That’s a red flag for the credit bureaus, sending a signal that you might be desperate for credit.
New Credit 10%
It’s ok to apply for a credit card, but if you apply for several at the same time, it may be an indication you’re using one to pay off others, and that is a negative. The same logic applies to asking for a car loan at the same time you ask for a home loan. It’s better to spread those applications out over time.
There are different credit score models, which emphasize varying factors when calculating your score.
Credit scoring models are statistical analyses used by credit bureaus that evaluate your worthiness to receive credit. The agencies select statistical characteristics found in a person’s credit payment patterns, analyze them, and develop a credit score. With so many scoring methods used to determine your credit score, the variety of models means your score can vary several points, depending on what model is used and what type of business is asking for it.
|The FICO score is the most commonly used credit scoring model. FICO is an abbreviation for Fair Isaac Corporation, the first company ever to offer credit scores. You have different FICO scores at each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
|FICO often changes its credit score model to make it a better reflection of how creditworthy individuals are. As a result, there are currently more than 50 FICO credit score models used for different types of debt. A different version of your FICO credit score is used for a mortgage, auto loan, credit card, and more.
Additional Learning Resources
Understand Your Score
This guide from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau contains more information on the different credit scores and where they come from.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers an abundance of learning resources related to credit reports and scores.
Reports & Scores
Learn more about how scores are determined and how they can impact your financial goals with this interactive learning lesson from USSFCU's Best Life Learning Center.
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