There are few things in your adult life that are as influential as your credit score. The three-digit number that makes up your score is used as a general indication of your trustworthiness. Loan lenders, credit card companies, landlords, insurance agencies, and potential employers all view your credit score as indicating your overall dependability.
You probably think that credit scores have been around forever. It makes sense when you realize how much of a factor they play in your life. While the concept of credit has been around for centuries, credit scores as we know them today are only a few decades old. The Fair, Isaac, and Company (FICO) model of credit that’s used by the vast majority of banks, credit unions, and lenders was only introduced in 1989.
Seeing as how credit scores are a relatively new concept, there are a lot of misconceptions about them. There are many people today that weren’t properly educated by their parents or teachers about credit because they didn’t understand it themselves.
Fortunately, there is a lot of information about credit that’s easily accessible online. You can easily build up your credit score with a few steps, even if you’re starting from scratch. With enough work, you could one day wind up with a perfect score.
Why Does Credit Score Matter?
As mentioned earlier, the credit score is one of the most important factors in your life. Pretty much anything that involves your finances will be influenced by your credit score. The three-digit number that is attached to your name is the very first thing that financial institutions will see. If your score is below their minimum requirement, your application will immediately be rejected with no questions asked.
Here are some of the benefits that will come with having a good credit score:
- Greater chance of being approved for loans and credit cards.
- Lower interest rates on loans and credit cards.
- Higher limits on credit accounts.
- Better car and home insurance rates.
- Easier approval process when renting.
- More likely that security deposits are waived.
- Stronger negotiating power with financial institutions.
What Are the Ranges of Credit?
A lot of people view credit scores through a black and white lens. It’s simply either a “good” score or a “bad” score. Seeing as how the numbers range from 300 to 850, credit scores are actually more like a sliding scale of gray. The higher the score, the closer that you are to having “perfect” credit.
Every financial institution has its own preference for scores, but there are generally five categories that your score can fall in:
- Poor: 300-579
- Fair: 580-669
- Good: 670-739
- Very Good: 740-799
- Excellent: 800-850
How Are Credit Scores Calculated?
The three major credit bureaus in the United States (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) report, update and store the credit histories of all consumers. These reports contain a lot of personal financial data that is used to calculate your overall credit score.
It’s common for there to be a few differences in the information collected by these agencies. As a result, most lenders will look at your FICO score which is based on data from all three bureaus.
There are five weighted categories that are used to calculate your credit score:
Payment History (35%)
The single most important factor for your credit score is your payment history. It’s typically the first thing that a lender will want to know about you before they accept your loan application.
Lenders are taking on a substantial risk whenever they give out money for an unsecured loan. Having a history of making payments on time can convince a lender that you’re a safe bet and are very likely to repay your loan.
Amounts Owed (30%)
The amount of money that you owe on your credit accounts is just behind payment history in terms of importance. The key to understanding this category is your overall credit utilization rate.
This percentage is based on your overall debt to credit ratio. It will add up all of the current balances on your credit accounts and divide that sum by your total credit limit.
A lower score indicates that you’re effectively managing your debts.
Credit History (15%)
The credit history category will take into account the average age of all your accounts, the age of your newest account, and the age of your account. The longer that you’ve been operating these accounts, the higher your score will be.
Maintaining a solid payment history can be fairly easy when you’ve only had an account for six months. Having a long credit history will prove that you’ve been handling your accounts for years and have a positive impact on your score.
New Credit (10%)
In most cases, loan lenders and credit card companies will request a copy of your credit report as part of the application process. This is known as a “hard inquiry” and will be marked on your credit report.
Having one or two hard inquiries isn’t typically a concern for most lenders. However, if several of them were reported in a short window, then it would indicate that you’re desperate for money. That would represent a greater risk for lenders and negatively affect your score.
Credit Mix (10%)
There are several different types of credit available, including credit cards, student loans, mortgages, and car loans. Having a solid mix of different types of credit can help to show that you’re capable of handling debt in all forms. Revolving credit such as credit cards indicates that you’re able to borrow and pay back varying amounts of money each month. Installment credit such as loans demonstrates that you can uphold long-term agreements and make fixed payments on time.
How Can You Get a Perfect Credit Score?
Getting a perfect credit score is an extremely difficult task that only a few Americans have achieved. In fact, only 1.6 percent of Americans have a credit score of 850. There’s nothing wrong with setting your sights on a perfect 850, but the truth is that you should be fine with anything over 800. There really won’t be much of a difference between having an 805 and having an 850.
Here are a few ways that you can increase your score to reach the 800 range:
- Make every payment on time. Payment history is the most important factor in your credit score. It’s essential that you make all of your monthly payments on time. You might be able to get away with being a few days late, but anything after 30 days can have a serious impact on your score.
- Keep your credit utilization rate low. You need to use your credit account in order to keep them active. However, you shouldn’t be loading them down with a high balance. You should aim to keep your credit utilization around 10 percent and avoid ever going over 30 percent.
- Build up a long credit history. The key to building up a long history is to have patience. There isn’t anything that you can do to improve this factor other than starting as early as possible. Make sure that you are performing the other tasks on this list, and the score increase will come eventually.
- Avoid too many hard inquiries. It’s going to take a few hard inquiries to build up your credit over time. The key is to space them out as much as possible. A hard inquiry will stay on your credit report for two years. Try to limit hard inquiries to once or twice a year at most.
- Manage different types of credit. The chances are that you’ll achieve this task naturally over time. Taking out a few credit cards while you pay off your car, student loans, and mortgage will be enough to help. You should never take out a loan if you don’t need it, but using a loan instead of cash can help you to build up your score.
The First Steps to Perfection
Achieving a perfect score will require a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience. It’s possible that you might never achieve a perfect score even if you have plenty of all three. Instead of trying to shoot for a perfect score, you should just focus on getting over 800.
Making your payments on time, keeping your credit utilization rate low, and spacing out hard inquiries are enough to account for 80 percent of your credit score. Eventually, you’ll build up a high-quality credit history that will give you another ten percent boost. That should be enough to reach 800 without even factoring in your credit mix.
The Yotta Credit Builder is an easy way to build up your credit score. There’s no hard inquiry required, and you’ll immediately receive $1,000 when you’re approved. You have to repay $55 each month over 24 months. Every successful payment will be reported to all three credit bureaus and help you build up your credit.
Visit Yotta today to learn more about how to build up your credit quickly. While you're building your credit, you’ll also be eligible for the weekly drawing contests. All it takes is a little bit of luck, and you win a brand new Tesla Model 3 or a $10 million cash prize.