The number of points in your credit score directly affects whether you can open credit accounts and how much interest you will pay if you can. Credit scores can vary by hundreds of points, with ranges for excellent, good, fair and bad credit. You should know the point ranges and the factors that go into tallying your credit score as part of your personal financial management strategy.
According to the Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO), FICO credit scores run from a high of 850 points down to 300. While it's rare for someone to achieve a perfect score, anything above 700 points is considered very good. Bad Credit Advisor says that 699 to 680 points is good, while 679 to 620 is just okay. If you are below 619, you may have trouble getting a loan and you'll pay a higher interest rate if you do. Anything below 499 points will most likely prevent you from opening any unsecured accounts.
Out of all the factors that affect credit score points, your payment history has the biggest effect. According to FICO, it accounts for 35 percent of your score. This means more than one-third of your points are based on whether you make on-time payments or have ever failed to pay a loan or account.
Your account balances influence 30 percent of your credit score points. FICO considers how many accounts have balances and how much you owe on each of those accounts. It also looks at the types of balances you're carrying and considers whether they are credit cards or installment loans. For installment accounts, the number of payments you have made is weighed against the remaining loan balance.
Years of Credit
Fifteen percent of your credit score points come from the length of your credit history. The longer you've had credit, the more points you will be given in this area. If you've maintained some of your accounts for many years, that will have a positive influence. FICO also looks at how long it has been since there was any activity on your open accounts.
If you have filled out a high number of credit applications or opened many new accounts, it can cost you some points off your credit score. According to FICO, inquiries by lenders and new accounts make up 10 percent of your credit score.
FICO looks at the different types of accounts you have. If you maintain a good balance of credit cards and installment loans such as retail purchases, car loans and mortgages, you'll get more points on your credit score.
Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."