Monday, July 20, 2009

Credit Score

A Credit Score is something we have been hearing or rather we hear all the time. In the US Banks talk about your credit score when you go to get a loan. Right from getting a loan to getting a job, your credit score is something that is checked. Even in India private banks and lending institutions have started checking the credit history of a customer before entering into a loan agreement with him. So, it is imperative that we learn what a credit score is and how we can build it.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a number that lenders use to estimate risk. Experience has shown them that borrowers with higher credit scores are less likely to default on a loan. Usually banks and lending institutions would prefer somebody with a good credit score than someone who does not have such a strong credit score.

How are credit scores calculated?

Credit scores are generated by plugging the data from your credit report into software that analyzes it and cranks out a number. The three major credit reporting agencies don't necessarily use the same scoring software, so don't be surprised if you discover that the credit scores they generate for you are different. Generally lesser your outstanding debt and better the pay check you receive every month, it is better for your credit score. For ex: let us say A & B draw a salary of Rs. 50,000/- every month. A has a home loan for which he pays an EMI of Rs. 20,000/- every month whereas B does not have any such loans. So, obviosly the credit score of person A would be better than that of B and he would stand a better chance of striking a better deal or a loan from any bank or financial institutions.

Which parts of a credit history are most important?

There are many aspects of your credit history that affect your credit score.

35% - Your Payment History - Credit cards, Telephone bills and other utility bills
30% - Amounts You Owe - Outstanding credit amounts in loans and credit cards
15% - Length of Your Credit History
10% - Types of Credit Used
10% - New Credit

Why is your credit score important?

The credit score of an individual is an indicator of how worthy he is as a borrower to receive a financial product from a bank. A loan is a commitment on the part of the borrower or the customer to repay the loan. So, a bank would prefer a customer who has a better chance of repaying the loan than someone who has a past of being irregular or delinquent in his payments.

Most customers with decent credit scores manage to get a loan or any other service from a bank but at a price. Let us take the same example as above A & B. The rate of interest at which person B gets any new loan would be lesser than person A. This is because person A has a lesser credit score and hence the bank would want to collect as much money as possible from B before he stops making payments. If A manages to pay off his loan properly, this would eventually improve his credit score.

Credit scoring software only considers items on your credit report. Lenders typically look at other factors that aren't included in the report, such as income, employment history and the type of credit you are seeking.

What's a Good Credit Score?

Credit scores (usually) range from 340 to 850. The higher your score, the less risk a lender believes you will be. As your score climbs, the interest rate you are offered will probably decline.

Borrowers with a credit score over 700 are typically offered more financing options and better interest rates, but don't be discouraged if your scores are lower, because banks service nearly everyone.

It is believed that only around 10% of the population has a credit score of over 800. The bulk of the customers who receive services from banks and financial institutions are in the 550 - 700 score range. Anyone who has a score of over 700 can easily get services from banks without much of a hassle.

The next article would be on how to improve your credit score.


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