The 5 Factors That Affect Your Credit Score (And Simple Ways to Boost Them!) - Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union (2024)

Whether you’re looking to get your first credit card for everyday expenses or take out a mortgage to purchase your first home, credit is an essential tool for helping people to meet their financial goals. When applying for a line of credit, the higher your credit score, the more likely you will be to qualify, and the more options you will have available to you. Here, we’ll break down the 5 factors that influence your score—in order of most heavily weighted to least—and the simple yet effective steps you can take to give your score a boost.

Payment History (35%)

Payment history is the biggest single factor used to calculate your credit score. Late payments (even a couple of days), past due accounts, and accounts in collections all have a negative impact on your credit. Regular, on-time payments of the minimum amount (or greater) will improve your credit score. An on-time payment history in the range of 18 months or longer will begin to show results in a growing credit score.

Quick Tips for Credit Card and Loan Payments:

Set up automatic payments. If your late payments are due to forgetfulness, this is the easiest way to ensure you never miss a future payment.

Change your billing due date. Suppose you have multiple bills due on the same day of the month. In that case, it may be worth changing your payment due date to align better with your personal situation (e.g., spacing out bills to make them more manageable, or ensuring your payment date is after an income deposit date.)

Explore hardship/deferment options. If you’re having trouble making ends meet, call your creditors and request a forbearance or payment deferral. They may also be able to waive late fees or even allow a lower payment for a period of time.

Amount Owed (30%)

Your credit utilization is determined by the amount you owe—not relative to your income but, compared to the total credit limit available to you, expressed as a percentage. (For example, if your credit card balance is $600 and you have a spending limit of $2,500, your credit utilization is $600/$2,500 or 24%.) As a rule of thumb, your credit utilization should be no more than 30%.

Quick Tips for Improving Amount Owed:

Pay down your balance early. If you can make small payments throughout the month, this can help keep your balance down and lower your credit utilization.

Decrease spending. Find areas where you can cut back on spending to lower your utilization. Our Interactive Budgeting Worksheet can help you to determine what to cut.

Ask for a credit line increase. Increasing your credit limit is the simplest way to decrease your credit utilization without having to cut back on spending.

Length of Credit History (15%)

Although not the most heavily weighted category, the length of a borrower’s credit history is important. It’s an indication to financial institutions what kind of borrower you may be in the future. In addition to the overall time an individual has had credit accounts open, credit history is also determined by how long specific types of accounts have been open, and how long it’s been since those accounts have been used.

Quick Tips for Improving Credit History:

Get a secured credit card. Backed by a cash deposit, a secured credit card can be an excellent low-risk way for those who have not had a credit card previously to start building credit.

Keep credit cards open. Closing a credit card can negatively affect your score. If you have cards you aren’t using, placing a small recurring charge on them (such as a phone bill or streaming subscription) can help to keep the card active while keeping your overall credit utilization low.

Credit Mix (10%)

Credit mix is determined by looking at the types of credit you are carrying (this includes credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage loans, etc.) as well as your payment history in each area.

Quick Tips for Improving Mix:

Explore loan options that work best for you. Your credit mix isn’t the most impactful category, and you shouldn’t pursue loans unless they make sense for you and your personal needs. In fact, you may already have a fair credit mix—things like credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, and mortgage loans are all considered different types of credit.

Make sure you pay loans on time. A good credit mix is moot if you aren’t making timely payments – ensure you are making at least the minimum payments on your outstanding loans each month.

New Credit (10%)

Research shows that opening several credit accounts in a short amount of time represents a more significant risk— especially for people who don’t have an established credit history.

Quick Tips for New Credit:

Open new credit accounts only as needed. Every time you apply for a new credit card, this creates a hard inquiry on your credit, which will automatically lower your score. Having more credit than needed can also encourage unnecessary spending and lead to increased debt.

Understand how hard inquiries show up on your report for different types of loans. While multiple inquiries over a short time frame for credit cards may result in significant score damage, other types of inquiries—such as home or auto loans—are reported a little differently. Since lenders know people often shop around, these types of inquiries won’t hit your report for 30 days, and when they do, they’ll be counted as a singular inquiry.

So, there you have it. If you implement these tips, you should start to see a gradual increase in your credit score. Remember: Your credit score is based on patterns over time, with an emphasis on more recent information. Improving credit won’t happen overnight, but with persistence and consistency, your score should gradually improve over time!

Free Credit Report Review

Need some extra help navigating your credit report? GreenPath’s NFCC-certified credit counselors can walk you through a free review of your credit report. They’ll explain how to read the report and help you to make a plan for managing your credit score to support your goal.

The 5 Factors That Affect Your Credit Score (And Simple Ways to Boost Them!) - Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union (2024)


The 5 Factors That Affect Your Credit Score (And Simple Ways to Boost Them!) - Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union? ›

Your payment history carries the most weight in factors that affect your credit score, because it reveals whether you have a history of repaying funds that are loaned to you.

What are 5 ways to improve your credit score? ›

Here are five credit-boosting tips.
  • Pay your bills on time. Why it matters. Your payment history makes up the largest part—35 percent—of your credit score. ...
  • Keep your balances low. Why it matters. ...
  • Don't close old accounts. Why it matters. ...
  • Have a mix of loans. Why it matters. ...
  • Think before taking on new credit. Why it matters.

Which of the five factors that impact credit scores would cause your score to suffer the most right now? ›

Your payment history carries the most weight in factors that affect your credit score, because it reveals whether you have a history of repaying funds that are loaned to you.

What factors would make your credit score go up down? ›

Common things that improve or lower credit scores include payment history, credit utilization (the amount of credit you use), credit mix, and your length of credit history. Another thing that can improve or lower your credit score is whether you've opened new credit recently.

What are the 5 factors that affect a borrower's credit worthiness? ›

The five Cs of credit are character, capacity, capital, collateral, and conditions.

What are the 5 C's of credit score? ›

Character, capacity, capital, collateral and conditions are the 5 C's of credit. Lenders may look at the 5 C's when considering credit applications. Understanding the 5 C's could help you boost your creditworthiness, making it easier to qualify for the credit you apply for.

What are the 5 components that make up your credit score? ›

What's in my FICO® Scores? FICO Scores are calculated using many different pieces of credit data in your credit report. This data is grouped into five categories: payment history (35%), amounts owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%) and credit mix (10%).

What are at least 5 things you can do to earn a high credit score? ›

There is no secret formula to building a strong credit score, but there are some guidelines that can help.
  • Pay your loans on time, every time. ...
  • Don't get close to your credit limit. ...
  • A long credit history will help your score. ...
  • Only apply for credit that you need. ...
  • Fact-check your credit reports.
Sep 1, 2020

What are the five ways to establish credit? ›

Find the best credit card for you by reviewing offers in our credit card marketplace or get personalized offers via CardMatch™.
  • Apply for a secured credit card. ...
  • Become an authorized user. ...
  • Take out a credit-builder loan. ...
  • Keep a close eye on your credit utilization. ...
  • Make small purchases and pay them off quickly.
Mar 25, 2024

What factors increase credit risk? ›

Those include the financial health of the borrower, the severity of the consequences of a default (for both the borrower and the lender), the size of the credit extension, historical trends in default rates, and a variety of macroeconomic considerations, such as economic growth and interest rates.

What factors may lead to a poor credit score? ›

The 7 most common causes of a bad credit rating
  • Failing to stick to the credit agreement. ...
  • Declaring bankruptcy. ...
  • Choosing the wrong credit card. ...
  • Being the subject of a County Court Judgement (CCJ) ...
  • Only paying the minimum each month. ...
  • Identity theft. ...
  • Having no credit history.

What is a credit score for dummies? ›

A credit score is a number that depicts a consumer's creditworthiness. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Factors used to calculate your credit score include repayment history, types of loans, length of credit history, debt utilization, and whether you've applied for new accounts.

What are the 5 factors of a credit score? ›

Knowing how credit scores are calculated can help you boost your standing if you pay close attention to these five criteria:
  • Payment history.
  • Amounts owed.
  • Length of credit history.
  • New credit.
  • Credit mix.
Dec 30, 2022

How to raise credit score? ›

If you want to improve your score, there are some things you can do, including:
  1. Paying your loans on time.
  2. Not getting too close to your credit limit.
  3. Having a long credit history.
  4. Making sure your credit report doesn't have errors.
Nov 7, 2023

What is #1 factor in improving your credit score? ›

1. Payment History: 35% Making debt payments on time every month benefits your credit scores more than any other single factor—and just one payment made 30 days late can do significant harm to your scores. An account sent to collections, a foreclosure or a bankruptcy can have even deeper, longer-lasting consequences.

What are 5 things that can hurt your credit score? ›

5 Things That May Hurt Your Credit Scores
  • Making a late payment.
  • Having a high debt to credit utilization ratio.
  • Applying for a lot of credit at once.
  • Closing a credit card account.
  • Stopping your credit-related activities for an extended period.

What 5 things is your credit score based on? ›

The primary factors that affect your credit score include payment history, the amount of debt you owe, how long you've been using credit, new or recent credit, and types of credit used. Each factor is weighted differently in your score.

What hurts your credit score? ›

Making debt payments on time every month benefits your credit scores more than any other single factor—and just one payment made 30 days late can do significant harm to your scores. An account sent to collections, a foreclosure or a bankruptcy can have even deeper, longer-lasting consequences.

What habit lowers your credit score? ›

Making a Late Payment

Every late payment shows up on your credit score and having a history of late payments combined with closed accounts will negatively impact your credit for quite some time. All you have to do to break this habit is make your payments on time.


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