What is a Credit Score?
Credit Scores were first developed over fifty years ago when Fair Isaacs Corp Developed the first credit scoring system. Today, the Fair Isaacs Corp Credit Score, which is called a FICO score, is the industry standard and used by lenders to evaluate whether to offer an individual a line of credit or a new home mortgage.
Credit scores are based upon information in a persons credit report and based on a numerical scale between 300 and 850. 850 is considered a perfect credit score, but anything above 760 is considered a very solid credit rating. While the amount of debt a person has plays an important role in determining their credit score, this typically only makes up about 30% of the credit score. The rest of the credit score is based off of the way an individual has paid off their debts, as well as the number of delinquent payments, the length of the credit history, and the types of loans offered.
Since a big part of a credit score is not how much debt you have, but how well you manage this debt, it is possible to maintain a healthy credit score even with a high level of debt. However, most loan administrators suggest maintaining a 30% to 50% debt to credit limit ratio.
One of the most important things that you can do to maintain a healthy credit score is to pay all bills off on time. Today, most banks offer free electronic payments, which can be a quick and easy way to ensure that all bills get paid on time. If a payment is missed, it should be paid off as quickly as possible.
Another important step in maintaining a healthy credit score is to pay off the debts that have the highest interest first, without a great deal of debt transfers. Many people, especially those who are having credit problems, also like to apply for any semi-attractive credit card offer they get, but too many credit inquires reduces your credit score, so this should be avoided. Instead, it is suggested to only apply for new credit once a year and to research potential credit offers before actually applying. Once a good credit offer is found, the credit inquire process should be completed in as short of a time frame as possible.
One big factor that goes into a credit score is the length of a persons credit history, so it is not usually advised to cancel a credit line, even if there is no credit balance. Instead, you can simply cut up the credit card, but leave the account open. This helps provide a longer credit history, even if you are not using it.
Using a debit card instead of a credit card can also be a good idea. These can be used in the same way a credit card would be and are accepted at all major retailers, but do not draw money from a credit line, but instead directly from a persons checking account. Some people even find that when they use cash, they are less likely to spend money, so it may be a good idea to do a little experimenting to get in the habit of efficiently managing money.
While credit reports and credit scores are arguably a very controversial device, if you wish to borrow money, having a high credit score is essential.