How Credit Scores Are Calculated

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Demystifying Credit Scores: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding How They Are Calculated

Understanding how to calculate credit scores is crucial for individuals navigating personal finances. Credit scores wield a significant influence on an individual’s financial well-being and creditworthiness. Although many individuals are aware of their credit score, they may not actually know how they are calculated. This article actively aims to bring clarity by explaining the crucial elements that determine credit scores.

The Foundation: Credit Score Models

At its core, a credit score is a numeric depiction of a person’s ability to repay debt. Various credit scoring models exist, with FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) and VantageScore being the most widely used. While the specific algorithms differ, the fundamental principles behind credit score calculation remain similar.

What makes up a credit score?

Understanding the fundamental components that influence the calculation of credit scores is essential.

1.Payment History (35% Weight): The Backbone of Credit Scores

The single most influential factor in determining a credit score is payment history. This category assesses how consistently individuals meet their credit obligations. Late payments, defaults, and bankruptcies have a negative impact, while paying bills on time, on or before their due date contribute positively to the score.

A history of on-time payments demonstrates responsibility with credit and loans, which translates into a higher credit score. Even one late payment can negatively impact an otherwise positive payment history.

2.Credit Utilization (30% Weight): Balancing Act with Available Credit

Credit utilization reflects the ratio of a person’s outstanding credit card balances to their credit limits. Maintaining a low credit utilization ratio (ideally below 30%) is crucial for a positive impact on credit scores. It signals responsible credit management.

Maxing out credit cards or using them close to their limit can be seen as risky credit behavior and may lower your credit score, even if payments are made on time. Keeping balances low relative to limits demonstrates the ability to manage credit wisely.

3.Length of Credit History (15% Weight): Building Trust Over Time

The length of time a person has been using credit contributes to their credit score. A longer credit history is better because it shows more about how someone manages their credit. Credit scoring models like to see a long track record of responsible credit management. Having several years of positive credit history with different types of accounts (credit cards, loans, etc.) leads to higher credit scores.

4.Types of Credit in Use (10% Weight): A Diverse Portfolio Matters

Credit scoring models consider the variety of credit accounts a person holds. Using different types of credit accounts such as installment loans and credit cards responsibly can improve your credit score. Having experience managing different types of credit demonstrates well-rounded money management abilities. However, opening too many accounts at once can negatively impact scores.

5.New Credit (10% Weight): Managing Inquiries and Open Accounts

Credit score models consider the number of recently opened accounts and recent credit inquiries. Pulling too many hard inquiries within a short time frame can leave a negative impact the credit score, as this indicates the person is desperate for new credit.

However, shopping for the best rates on a car or mortgage within a focused period counts as a single inquiry. In moderation, strategically opening new credit accounts can help build diverse credit history.


Empowering individuals to take control of their financial well-being involves understanding the calculation of credit scores. Maintaining a good payment history, managing credit utilization, creating a mixed credit portfolio, and being mindful of new credit allows individuals to actively improve and maintain healthy credit scores.

Additionally, regularly monitoring credit reports and promptly addressing inaccuracies contributes to overall credit score health. In the dynamic landscape of personal finance, where credit plays a crucial role, having knowledge is so important. Understanding the components of what makes up a credit score credit score allows individuals to make informed decisions that positively impact their financial future.

Get in Touch

We hope this overview has helped you understand how credit scores are calculated. If you have any other questions as you work to build your credit and financial health, our experts are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to speak with one of our knowledgeable financial advisors. We’re happy to provide guidance tailored to your unique situation and goals. Investing in understanding your credit is investing in your future.