5 Ways FICO Calculates Your Credit Score

A credit score is a three-digit number that identifies how risky you are to a lender.

One Little Three-Digit Number

You may not even know you have one. If you have a utility (electricity, phone, etc.) account, a credit card, a student loan, a car payment or a mortgage, you’ve got one. You’ve got a credit score!

Think of this three-digit number, your credit score, as a snapshot of your credit report. Compare it to your high school or college grade point average (GPA) as being a snapshot of your transcript. This three-digit number helps a lender determine your creditworthiness as they evaluate extending credit to you when you apply for a credit card, a car loan, a student loan or a mortgage. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be granted credit and receive the best possible interest rate. 

The most popular credit score used in the world today is the FICO(R) score. A fun trivia fact – FICO stands for Fair Isaac & Company, the company who created the FICO score! A FICO score ranges from a low of 300 to a high of a perfect score of 850. It is estimated over 90% of lenders use FICO scores when evaluating creditworthiness. A FICO credit score is calculated based on five specific factors: 

  • 35% Payment History: Payment history helps a lender figure out the amount of risk for future credit. Be sure to keep all your credit accounts in good standing.
  • 30% Amount Owed: Having credit accounts and owing money on them does not mean you are a high-risk borrower. Using a lot of your available credit, may indicate that you are overextended..
  • 15% Credit history: This takes into account: how long your credit accounts have been established, and how long it has been since you used certain accounts. 
  • 10% New Credit: Lenders consider that opening several credit accounts in a short amount of time represents a greater risk, especially for people who don’t have a long credit history.
  • 10% Credit Mix: This refers to the different types of credit you are using including: credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, car loans, and mortgage loans. 

With the single largest factor in determining your credit score being Payment History (35%). To keep your credit score as high as possible, it’s important to consistently pay your bills on-time. Here are three great ways to successfully pay your bills on time:

  1. Get organized! Make a list of all bills, due dates and amounts owed and put in (or on) your calendar. Go old-school and use a spreadsheet if it’s easier!
  2. Sign up for reminders (or use an app!) of upcoming or regular payments. 
  3. Set up automatic payments through your bank. 

A Journey to Personal Financial Success

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Learning how money works and how to talk about money with others are the first steps towards recognizing an individual’s lifelong financial goals. Our online programs, podcasts, blogs, and book reviews and resources are designed to help you learn the concepts, rules and vocabulary of money, finance and investing.

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Our Standards of Financial LiteracyLearning about money series is engaging, full of interesting information, and easy to navigate. Adapted from the National Standards for Personal Financial Education developed by the Council for Economic Education (CEE), this robust curriculum features six short lessons on such important topics as earning income, understanding the value of saving and using credit. When completed, this program lays the foundation for becoming an MFF Fellow.

Becoming an MFF Fellow is the ticket to access additional MFF programs and opportunities for mentoring, networking, internships and real-world opportunities. Hear from the MFF Fellow themselves on how these opportunities encourage them to continue their journey to personal financial success.

Learn More about Money

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