Author Topic: The Importance of Your Credit Rating  (Read 135 times)

Maliha Islam

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The Importance of Your Credit Rating
« on: February 18, 2019, 01:36:22 PM »
The Importance of Your Credit Rating

People have become increasingly dependent on credit. Therefore, it's crucial that you understand personal credit reports and your credit rating or score. Here we explore what a credit score is, how it is determined, why it is important and, finally, some tips to acquire and maintain good credit.

Credit Rating Basics
When you use credit, you are borrowing money that you promise to pay back within a specified period of time. A credit score is a statistical method to determine the likelihood of an individual paying back the money he or she has borrowed.

The credit bureaus that issue these scores have different evaluation systems, each based on different factors. Some may take into consideration only the information contained in your credit report, which we look at below. The primary factors used to calculate an individual's credit score are his or her credit payment history, current debts, time length of credit history, credit mix and frequency of applications for new credit. Because the scoring systems are based on different criteria which are weighted differently, the three major credit bureaus in the U.S. (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) may issue different scores for an individual, even though the scores are based on the same information.

You may hear the term FICO score in reference to your credit score — the terms are essentially synonymous. FICO is an acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation, the creator of the software used to calculate credit scores.

Scores range between 350 (extremely high risk) and 850 (extremely low risk). Here is a breakdown of the distribution of scores for the American population in 2003:

There is another scoring method, called the VantageScore. This system was created in 2006 and is weighted differently than the FICO score. Through this method, the average of a consumer's available credit, recent credit, payment history, credit utilization, depth of credit and credit balances are considered, with the biggest weight given to payment history and credit utilization. The VantageScore range runs between 501 and 990. Anyone under 630 is deemed to have poor credit. A score between 630 and 690 is considered fair, while 690 to 720 is considered good. A score above 720 is considered excellent. There are an increasing amount of creditors who are using this method. However, it still isn't nearly as popular as the FICO system.

Credit Rating System
In addition to using credit (FICO and VantageScore) scores, most countries (including the U.S. and Canada) use a scale of 0-9 to rate your personal credit. On this scale, each number is preceded by one of two letters: "I" signifies installment credit (like home or auto financing), and "R" stands for revolving credit (such as a credit card).

What Makes Up Your Credit Score?
When you borrow money, your lender sends information to a credit bureau which details, in the form of a credit report, how well you handled your debt. From the information in the credit report, the bureau determines a credit score based on five major factors: 

Previous credit performance
Current level of indebtedness
Time credit has been in use
Types of credit available
Pursuit of new credit
Although all these factors are included in credit score calculations, they are not given equal weighting. The breakdown is as follows: 35% for payment histories; 30% for the amounts owed, or current debt level; 15% for the total length of credit history; 10% for any new credit; and 10% for the type of credit mix.

As per the formula, your credit rating is most affected by your historical propensity for paying off your debt. Although there are many ways you can improve your credit score, the factor that can boost your credit rating the most is having a past that shows you pay off your debts fairly quickly. Additionally, maintaining low levels of indebtedness (or not keeping huge balances on your credit cards or other lines of credit), having a long credit history, and refraining from constantly applying for additional credit will all help your credit score.

Although we would love to explain the exact formula for calculating the credit score, the Federal Trade Commission has a secretive approach to this formula.

Why Your Credit Rating Is Important
When you apply for a credit card, mortgage or even a phone hookup, your credit rating is checked. Credit reporting makes it possible for stores to accept checks, for banks to issue credit or debit cards and for corporations to manage their operations. Depending on your credit score, lenders will determine what risk you pose to them.

According to financial theory, increased credit risk means that a risk premium must be added to the price at which money is borrowed. Basically, if you have a poor credit score, lenders may not shun you (unless it is utterly awful); instead, they'll lend you money at a higher rate than the one paid by someone with a better credit score. The table below shows how individuals with varying credit scores will pay dramatically different interest rates on similar mortgage amounts — the difference in interest, in turn, has a large impact on the monthly payments (which pay off both interest and principal). As you can see, your credit score can affect your mortgage in many ways:


Credit Is a Fragile Thing
Being aware of your credit and your credit score is very important, especially since you can harm your credit without even being aware of it. Here's a true story of what can happen:

Paul applied for a travel reward miles card but never received any response from the credit card company. Since it was a high-limit travel card, Paul just assumed that he'd been declined and never thought about it again. More than a year later, Paul goes to the bank to inquire about a mortgage. The people at the bank pull up Paul's credit report and find a bad debt from the credit card company. According to the credit report, the company tried to collect for a year but recently wrote it off as a bad debt, reporting it as an R9, the worst score you can get. Of course, all of this is news to Paul.

Well, it turns out there was a clerical error, and Paul's apartment suite number was missing from the address the credit card company had on file. Paul had been approved for the card but never actually received it, and any subsequent correspondence didn't get through either.

So the credit card company still charged Paul the annual fee, which he didn't pay, because he didn't know the debt existed. The annual fee collected interest for a year until the credit card company wrote it off. In the end, after jumping through several fiery hoops, Paul was able to get the problem rectified, and the card company admitted fault and notified the credit-reporting agency.

The point is, even though it was a small balance due (about $150), the administration error almost got in the way of Paul getting a mortgage. Nowadays, since all data goes through computers, incorrect information can easily get onto your credit report.

Source: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/00/091800.asp