You might assume that everyone over the age of 18 has a credit score. However, research shows that nearly 16% of the consumer population doesn’t have any credit rating because the credit reporting agencies don’t have enough financial information on them to determine a score.
What’s the easiest way to tell if you have a credit score? One of the fastest and easiest ways to check your credit score is with Credit.com’s free credit score checker. Keep reading to learn more about credit scores, how these scores are determined and how to boost your personal credit score.
In This Piece
- What Is a Credit Score?
- When Do You Get a Credit Score?
- What Determines Your Credit Score?
- Where Can You Check Your Credit Score?
- Why Does Your Credit Score Matter?
- How Can You Build Credit?
What Is a Credit Score?
Your credit score is one of the most important numbers related to your finances. This score is what creditors use to determine your ability to repay debt and assess your overall credit risk. Without a credit score, you’ll find it nearly impossible to obtain credit without a cosigner.
A credit score is a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 850. FICO is the most common credit score, but some creditors may use other credit ratings, such as VantageScore. These scores are determined by financial records that various credit reporting agencies collect and maintain, including your payment history, credit balances and bankruptcies. Lenders break these scores down into five different risk levels:
- Poor credit score: 300-579
- Fair credit score: 580-669
- Good credit score: 670-739
- Very good credit score: 740-799
- Exceptional credit score: 800-850
Lenders consider any score under 600 to be in poor standing, which could significantly impact your ability to secure credit. On the other hand, a good score is any rating over 670.
When Do You Get a Credit Score?
While credit reporting agencies may start gathering data before you reach the age of 18, you typically won’t get a credit score until you’re over 18 years old. But this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically receive a credit score at 18.
The credit reporting agencies must have enough financial information about you to determine a credit score. For example, you need to have credit accounts, such as loans or credit cards, or at least utility bills in your name. Once you’ve established credit for at least 6 months, you should receive a credit score.
What Determines Your Credit Score?
Five factors that contribute to your credit score are discussed in more detail below.
Your payment history is the most important aspect of your credit rating and accounts for 35% of your score. If you pay your bills on time every month, you should have no trouble scoring high in this category. If, on the other hand, you have multiple late payments on your account, your score may be lower than you want.
Credit Utilization Ratio
Your credit utilization ratio identifies how much credit you’ve used in comparison to the total amount of credit you have available. This ratio accounts for 30% of your credit score. While many factors go into using this ratio to determine your credit score, most lenders prefer to see this number sit under 30%.
Length of Credit History
The length of your credit history contributes 15% to your overall credit rating. The longer you’ve maintained a credit history, the higher your credit rating. Unfortunately, if you’re young or just starting to build your credit, the only thing you can do to improve this portion of your credit score is wait and maintain good credit.
New Credit Inquiries
The number of new credit inquiries you have can also impact your credit score by as much as 10%. A credit inquiry occurs when a potential lender or creditor submits a request for your credit report. It’s important to note that during the pre-qualification process, lenders often run a soft credit inquiry. This type of credit inquiry doesn’t affect your credit score. Only hard inquiries have an impact.
Mix of Credit Accounts
The type of credit accounts you have in place also account for 10% of your overall credit score. The better the mix of revolving credit accounts, such as credit cards, and installment credit accounts, such as a car loan or home mortgage, you have, the higher your rating.
Where Can You Check Your Credit Score?
You can obtain a free credit report once a year from all three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Reviewing these credit reports gives you a great idea of what financial information determines your credit score. However, these reports don’t include your credit score, and it’s impossible to determine your score from these reports alone.
You can get a free credit score report from Credit.com. This credit score is from Experian, and you receive an update every day for 2 weeks to help track your progress.
Why Does Your Credit Score Matter?
Your credit score is extremely important. With no credit or even poor credit, you’ll have a difficult time being approved for a credit card, car loan or home mortgage. If you’re lucky enough to get a loan with a lower credit score, you’re likely to incur higher interest rates. With higher interest rates, you’ll pay more for your car, home, and personal loans. You may also face higher rates on your home and auto insurance premiums due to a poor credit score.
Even utility companies, including electric, phone, and gas, run credit checks on customers. If your score is too low, the company may require you to pay a security deposit before you can establish a new account. Landlords can even request a higher security deposit if your credit score doesn’t meet their standards. Most importantly, however, you could lose out on job opportunities if your potential employer runs a credit check.
How Can You Build Credit?
If your credit score is lower than you want, there are things you can do to build up your credit score. While your score won’t rise overnight, taking steps today can help you start the path to rebuilding your credit. Here’s a look at a few things you can do to boost your credit score.
- Establish a utility bill in your name.
- Set up automatic payments to make sure you pay your bills on time.
- Obtain a credit card, even if it’s a secured credit card to start.
- Improve your utilization ratio by paying off some of your debt.
- Refrain from opening new credit accounts unless necessary.
- Work toward maintaining a mixture of installment and revolving credit accounts.
The first step you should take, however, is to request free copies of your credit report to make sure all the information is correct. Be sure to dispute any incorrect details. You also want to track your progress as you continue to build your credit. Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card can help you do just that.
Sign up for Credit.com ExtraCredit today for more tips on building your credit.
You Might Also Like
June 14, 2023
January 25, 2022