What are the minimum requirements for a FICO score?
There's really not much to it; in order for a FICO® score to be calculated, a credit report must contain these minimum requirements:
- At least one account that has been open for six months or more
- At least one undisputed account that has been reported to the credit bureau with in the past six months
- No indication of deceased on the credit report (Please note: if you share an account with another person this may affect you if the other account holder is reported deceased
What’s in your FICO® scoreFICO Scores are calculated from a lot of different credit data in your credit report. This data can be grouped into five categories as outlined below. The percentages in the chart reflect how important each of the categories is in determining your FICO score.
- Account payment information on specific types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, mortgage, etc.)
- Presence of adverse public records (bankruptcy, judgements, suits, liens, wage attachments, etc.), collection items, and/or delinquency (past due items)
- Severity of delinquency (how long past due)
- Amount past due on delinquent accounts or collection items
- Time since (recency of) past due items (delinquency), adverse public records (if any), or collection items (if any)
- Number of past due items on file
- Number of accounts paid as agreed
- Amount owing on accounts
- Amount owing on specific types of accounts
- Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases
- Number of accounts with balances
- Proportion of credit lines used (proportion of balances to total credit limits on certain types of revolving accounts)
- Proportion of installment loan amounts still owing (proportion of balance to original loan amount on certain types of installment loans)
Length of Credit History
- Time since accounts opened
- Time since accounts opened, by specific type of account
- Time since account activity
- Number of recently opened accounts, and proportion of accounts that are recently opened, by type of account
- Number of recent credit inquiries
- Time since recent account opening(s), by type of account
- Time since credit inquiry(s)
- Re-establishment of positive credit history following past payment problems
Types of Credit Used
- Number of (presence, prevalence, and recent information on) various types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage, consumer finance accounts, etc.)
- A FICO score takes into consideration all these categories of
information, not just one or two.
No one piece of information or factor alone will determine your score.
- The importance of any factor depends on the overall information in your
For some people, a given factor may be more important than for someone else with a different credit history. In addition, as the information in your credit report changes, so does the importance of any factor in determining your FICO score. Thus, it's impossible to say exactly how important any single factor is in determining your score - even the levels of importance shown here are for the general population, and will be different for different credit profiles. What's important is the mix of information, which varies from person to person, and for any one person over time.
- Your FICO score only looks at information in your credit
However, lenders look at many things when making a credit decision including your income, how long you have worked at your present job and the kind of credit you are requesting.
- Your score considers both positive and negative information in your
Late payments will lower your score, but establishing or re-establishing a good track record of making payments on time will raise your FICO credit score.
Do FICO scores change that much over time?In general, FICO® scores do not change that much over time. But it's important to note that your FICO score is calculated each time it's requested; either by you or a lender. And each time it's calculated it's taking into consideration the information that is on your credit report at that time. So, as the information on your credit report changes, your FICO score can also change.
How much your FICO score changes from time to time is driven by a variety of factors such as:
- Your current credit profile – how you have managed your credit to date will affect how a particular action may impact your score. For example, new information on your credit report, such as opening a new credit account, is more likely to have a larger impact for someone with a limited credit history as compared to someone with a very full credit history.
- The change being reported – the "degree" of change being reported will have an impact. For example, if someone who usually pays bills on-time continues to do so (a positive action) then there will likely be only a small impact on their score one month later. On the other hand, if this same person files for bankruptcy or misses a payment, then there will most likely be a substantial impact on their score one month later.
- How quickly information is updated – there is sometimes a lag between when you perform an action (like paying off your credit card balance in full) and when it is reported by the creditor to the credit bureau. It's only when the credit bureau has the updated information that it will have an affect on your FICO score.
Small changes in your score can be important if you're looking to obtain a certain FICO score level or if you are striving to reach a certain lender's FICO score "cutoff" (the point above which a lender would accept a new application for credit, but below which, the credit application would be denied).
How long will negative information remain on my credit report?It depends on the type of negative information. Here's the basic breakdown of how long different types of negative information will remain on your credit report:
- Late payments: 7 years
- Bankruptcies: 7 years for completed Chapter 13 bankruptcies and 10 years for Chapter 7 bankruptcies.
- Foreclosures: 7 years
- Collections: Generally, about 7 years, depending on the age of the debt being collected.
- Public Record: Generally 7 years, although unpaid tax liens can remain indefinitely.
For all of these negative items, the older they are the less impact they are going to have on your FICO® score. For example, a collection that is 5 years old will hurt much less than a collection that is 5 months old.
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