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Easily Understanding Your Credit Score

Have you ever wondered how some people can easily and effortlessly waltz into a bank and walk out with a home loan, car loan, or line of credit, while others get rejected time after time?

Have you ever been puzzled at the complex science behind credit scoring? The somewhat confusing and mind-numbing mix of numbers and ratios and complex algorithms used by our lenders these days, to supposedly calculate your risk as a borrower.

Are you tired of feeling confused at the lingo that so many lenders throw around as if you knew what they were saying as they turn you down for having insufficient credit scores?

You are about to discover the simple credit scoring secrets that lenders use to help evaluate your risk as a borrower.

I will pull apart the few components of a credit score for you so that by the end of this, you will be able to better understand exactly what you must pay attention to with regards to your own credit, so that you can become and maintain status as an “A” borrower forever more.

What is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a number that lenders use to estimate their risk if they should choose to lend you money.

Experience has shown them that people with a high credit score are usually going to pay them back with little or no problems. Conversely, borrowers with lower scores tend to be a higher risk to them and tend to be more likely to pay late or perhaps stop making payments altogether.

Credit scores (usually) range from 340 to 850 points. As your score climbs, lenders tend to offer lower interest rates and better terms. Conversely, the lower your score dips, the more likely you are to have higher interest rates, higher fees, tougher terms, and potentially even get declined by the lender altogether.

How are Credit Scores Calculated?
The three major credit reporting agencies don't necessarily use the same scoring, so don't be surprised when you see 3 different credit agencies come up with 3 slightly different scores.

Your credit score is a number generated by a mathematical formula based on the information and data in your credit report.

Your information is further compared to millions of other people’s information and data.

This number is a pretty accurate prediction of how likely you are to pay your bills and honor your commitments to your lenders.

What's a Good Credit Score vs. a Bad Score?

The scale runs from 300 to 850. The vast majority of people will have scores between 600 and 800. A score of over 700 is usually considered “excellent credit” and will usually get you the most favorable interest rates on loans, mortgages, and credit cards.

If the score is in the low 600’s or below, then you are viewed as a higher risk, and considered to have “mediocre” to “poor credit”.

Here's a look at national averages for credit scores among the US population in 2003:

Up to 499: 1%
500 - 549: 5%
550 - 599: 7%
600 - 649: 11%
650 - 699: 16%
700 - 749: 20%
750 - 799: 29%
Over 800: 11%

What Goes Into The Score, and Which Parts Are Most Important?

35% - Payment History
30% - Amounts You Owe
15% - Length of Credit History
10% - Types of Credit
10% - Newly Established Credit

Let’s break this down and make it simple. Bottom line is, at the end of this conversation you need to know just what this means to you. So let’s keep going here.

Payment History:
This category of the score reflects things like…
…Number of accounts paid as agreed
…Delinquent accounts
…Number times past due on payments
…How long you've been past due
…Time elapsed since you had a past due payment
…Collections, foreclosures, liens, judgments, etc
…Negative public records

How you pay your bills is a huge deal. Paying all your bills on time is good. Paying them late on a consistent basis is not good. Having accounts that were sent to collections is worse yet. Going into bankruptcy is even worse still.

What You Owe:

Basically this category is looking for signs of being over-extended, and making sure you are paying down your existing debts consistently

-How much you owe
-How much of your credit limit you've actually used
-Amounts you owe on installment loans vs. their original balances
-Number of accounts that are paid down to zero
-Remaining available credit

People with the high scores tend to use credit sparingly and keep their balances low. People who consistently max out their balances are usually considered to be a higher risk. People who never use credit will never have a history (good or bad) to monitor or track.

Also keep in mind that if you have ,000 of available credit spread over 5 cards or accounts, then you are best advised to keep your balances at ,000 or less.

Furthermore, you should spread that debt over all 5 cards. This is better than maxing out 3 of your cards for the ,000 and having 2 cards with a zero balance.

Length of Credit History:
Length of time since accounts were opened, time that's passed since the last activity, and the total length of time tracked by your credit report are all components here.

Basically, the longer you have good history, the better your scores tend to be.

Mix or Type of credit

The best scores will have a mix of both revolving credit (credit cards) and installment credit (mortgages or car loans).

When you are lopsided one way or the other your scores will slip downward. Even if your payments are good and account balances in check.

Your New Credit:

The final category to explore is new credit. Basically this is a question of how much new credit have you been applying for. How many credit applications have you been filling out with different lenders of any type?

This section wants to know the number of accounts you've recently opened. It further analyzes the time that's passed since recent inquiries or newly-opened accounts. It analyzes the number of recent credit “inquiries” or “credit pulls” you have asked for recently even if it didn’t result in a loan.

In general, it just monitors that you aren't trying to open to many accounts at any one time, thereby stretching yourself too thin.

Keep in mind that credit scores are not perfect.

It is quite common that a persons report may have some or lots of misinformation. This would not be the end of the world, so don’t sweat it. But do take it seriously. There are ways to improve your credit.

It is in your BEST INTEREST to make your score as high as possible, as quickly as possible. And now that you know how your score is based, your can target your game plan to effectively become the perfect borrower.

About the Author: Dan Ostler is the owner of Dan is an author, speaker, business owner, investor, and one of the nations leading Lease Option Consultants. He has been offering housing solutions and consulting advice to families with credit issues in all parts of the country for the past 8 years, and welcomes all visitors to his website for tons of **FREE** Information.

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