The most valuable asset that keeps your financial life sorted is your CIBIL score. This tool predicts your future financial behaviour. Whenever you apply for any loan, say a personal loan, the lenders check your score to determine the level of risk they are exposing themselves to by granting you loan. While a high score is a sign of good credit management a low score indicates that you are a risky borrower. Hence a low score may lock you out from the ability to borrow funds.
The credit bureaus use a mathematical algorithm to churn the information in your credit report and arrive at a three digit credit score. Let us solve the mystery of how this magical number is calculated. Only when you know the factors that go into the credit score calculation, will you be able to work on them so as to achieve and maintain a high credit score.
Here is a breakdown of five factors that constitute your credit score.
Payment history- This factor has the largest influence on the credit score (35%) as it portrays your future behaviour in terms of loan repayment. It reviews how well you have met your past obligations of credit cards and other loan accounts. It analyses whether you made your payments on time, how often you missed the payments, whether your recent bills are past the due date etc. It also looks at the public record items like delinquency, collections, liens, judgements or bankruptcy. If you have a clean track record of regular on time payments then you will score high on this factor. However if you have had problems in repayments, your score will be weak. The best way to gain credibility in the eyes of the lenders is to always pay back the bills and installments on time.
Amount owed- The credit scoring models give 30% weightage to the amount of available credit that you are using on the revolving accounts. The ratio of the amount that you owe to the total credit limit that is extended to you on all cards determines your credit utilization rate. This rate shows your overall dependence on credit. If you do not carry your balances to the next month you will have a high score. On the other hand high balances and maxed out credit cards will lower the credit score. As a general rule it is best to keep the utilization rate below 30% if you are trying to improve your score.
Length of the credit history – This factor accounts for 15% of the credit score and considers the age of your credit accounts. Creditors like to see whether you are able to successfully manage credit over a period of time. If you have open accounts since a long time and manage them responsibly, it gives the creditors sufficient proof of your dependable behaviour and therefore increases your credit score. If you have just recently opened an account and do not have sufficient credit history to show your track record then you may have a lower score. Because the length of the credit history affects your score, it is advised that you should not close your old credit cards as it shortens the average age of your accounts and hurts your score.
Credit mix-The type of accounts that show up on the CIBIL report, make up 10% of your credit score. If you have both revolving credit as well as instalment loans on your credit profile, you have a variety to show that you can manage different types of debt. Hence a good credit mix contributes to your creditworthiness and raises your credit score. On the contrary, having only one type of account like a credit card, can lower your score.
Recent credit activity- This factor considers your pursuit of new credit, including recently opened accounts and hard enquiries. It makes up 10% of your score. A number of newly opened trade lines or hard pulls on the credit report communicates to the lender that you are either desperate for credit or unable to qualify for credit. It signals financial trouble and lowers your score.
Knowing about the factors that constitute your score is the first step in your journey towards building your credit score. It will now become much easier to work upon your credit related actions to improve your score.