Improving Credit Scores
Improving your credit score and your creditworthiness begins with understanding what credit scores are and what factors influence them.
1. What is a credit score?
A credit score is a sum used by lenders as an indicator of how likely you are to repay your loans. Your credit score is generated by a mathematical formula utilizing the data from your TransUnion, Equifax or Experian credit reports. Lenders have been using credit scores as part of the lending decision for over than 20 years.
Various factors determine your credit score, including the following:
- Payment History
- Outstanding debt
- Length of credit history
- Severity and frequency of derogatory credit information such as bankruptcies, charge-offs, and collections
- The amount of credit used compared to the credit available
Your credit score is an important indicator of your financial health. Lenders use your credit score to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for a loan and what type of interest rate you will pay.
While your credit score is a key determinant of your creditworthiness, lenders also examine the information on your credit report and your loan application. Regularly checking your credit report enables you to:
- Be informed of the most up-to-date information in your credit history;
- Correct any inaccuracies, to make sure that your credit data is a true depiction of your credit record; and
- Increases your chances of receiving credit under the best possible terms.
There are several types of credit scores available. Typically, the higher the score, the better. Each lender decides what credit score range it considers to be a good credit risk or a poor credit risk. For this reason, the lender is the best source to explain what your credit score means in relation to the final credit decision. After all, they determine the criteria used to extend credit. The credit score is only one component of information evaluated by lenders.
Credit scoring is a method used by lenders to help decide whether or not you are a good candidate for a loan.
Lenders employ a credit scoring system to determine your credit score:
- Compares the information in your credit report to the performance of consumers who have similar credit characteristics
- Examines many credit characteristics including your payment history, the number and kind of accounts you have, the number and frequency of late payments, and any collections or bankruptcies
Generally speaking, positive credit characteristics make your score higher and help you to qualify for better loans. Negative characteristics make your score lower and may interfere with your ability to qualify for the best loan terms. Remember an online free credit score is sometimes available through certain companies.
A lender creates a credit scoring model by using several criteria:
- Selecting a large sampling of customers
- Analyzing the data in their credit reports to determine which factors relate to creditworthiness
- Assigning a degree of importance to each of the factors, based on how accurate a predictor it is in determining who will repay their loan on time
*The Better Credit Scores information outlined above are courtesy of TrueCredit.