Your 9 Most Common Credit Questions, Answered (Experian)

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What Factors Affect My Credit Score?

The scoring algorithms applied to calculate your credit score are complex—but the five factors[8] used to determine your credit score are straightforward:

  • Payment history: How you manage credit payments is the biggest factor in your credit score, accounting for 35% of your FICO® Score.
  • Credit utilization[9]: How much of your available revolving credit (such as credit cards) you’re using is the second most important factor in your credit score calculation, accounting for 30% of your FICO® Score.
  • Length of credit history: How long you’ve managed credit makes up 15% of your FICO® Score.
  • Credit mix[10]: How many different types of credit accounts you manage makes up 10% of your FICO® Score.
  • New credit: New credit accounts as well as the inquiries[11] performed when you applied for credit make up another 10% of your FICO® Score.

Building and maintaining good credit is as simple—and complicated—as using your credit responsibly in these five areas.

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How Can I Improve My Credit Score?

By understanding how your credit score is calculated, you can reverse engineer a better score[12]. Consider the five criteria FICO® and VantageScore use to determine your score—payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, credit mix and new credit—and look for ways to optimize.

Many tactics take time. For instance, you can (and should) maintain a perfect payment history starting today, but any payments made 30 days or more past due or collections you’ve already experienced will remain on your credit report for seven years from the first date the account became late. If you’re looking to improve your score in the short term, paying down outstanding credit card debt can help reduce your credit utilization ratio and thus improve your score. Or consider factoring in on-time phone and utility bill payments using Experian Boost[13] to improve your score instantly.

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