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What is a credit score and how is it calculated?

A credit score is a three-digit number that represents a borrower’s creditworthiness. Lenders use credit scores to assess the risk of lending money to a borrower. The score is calculated based on information in the borrower’s credit report, which includes data on their credit history, payment history, credit utilization, and other factors. In this article, we will explore the definition of a credit score, how it is calculated, and how it affects borrowers’ financial lives.

What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a numerical representation of a person’s creditworthiness, ranging from 300 to 850. The higher the score, the more creditworthy the borrower is considered. Credit scores are used by lenders, credit card companies, insurance companies, and other financial institutions to determine whether to approve an application for credit or to offer favorable interest rates and terms.

There are three main credit reporting agencies in the United States: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These agencies collect data from various sources, such as banks, credit card companies, and other lenders, and compile it into a credit report. The credit report includes information such as a person’s payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, types of credit used, and recent credit inquiries.

How is a Credit Score Calculated?

Credit scores are calculated based on a person’s credit report, using a mathematical formula developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). The FICO score is the most widely used credit score in the United States. It is calculated using five factors, each of which is assigned a different weight:

  1. Payment History (35%): This factor evaluates how consistently a borrower has paid their bills on time. Late payments, collections, bankruptcies, and other negative items can lower a person’s credit score.
  2. Credit Utilization (30%): This factor looks at how much of a borrower’s available credit they are using. A high credit utilization ratio (the amount of credit used divided by the total credit available) can lower a person’s credit score.
  3. Length of Credit History (15%): This factor evaluates the length of time a person has had credit accounts open. A longer credit history can positively impact a person’s credit score.
  4. Types of Credit Used (10%): This factor looks at the different types of credit a person has, such as credit cards, installment loans, and mortgages. Having a mix of different types of credit can positively impact a person’s credit score.
  5. New Credit Inquiries (10%): This factor evaluates how frequently a person has applied for new credit. Multiple inquiries in a short period can lower a person’s credit score.

Different credit reporting agencies may use slightly different formulas to calculate credit scores. However, the FICO score is the most widely used and is considered the industry standard.

How Does a Credit Score Affect Borrowers?

A person’s credit score can have a significant impact on their financial life. A high credit score can help borrowers qualify for lower interest rates on loans and credit cards, making it easier to pay off debts. A low credit score, on the other hand, can make it difficult to get approved for credit or loans and can result in higher interest rates and fees.

A poor credit score can also impact other areas of a person’s life, such as their ability to rent an apartment or get a job. Landlords and employers may check credit scores as part of their screening process, and a low score can be a red flag that a person may not be responsible or reliable.


A credit score is a numerical representation of a person’s creditworthiness, based on information in their credit report. The score is calculated using a formula developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) and takes into account factors such as payment history,

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