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How do credit scores work?

One simple number, ranging from 300-850, can have a big impact on your finances. A good credit score makes you more likely to be approved for credit accounts, get better interest rates and even secure lower auto insurance premiums.

In the eyes of lenders, “If you have a good credit score, you probably have additional income and you’re not reliant on your credit cards,” says Duane Dass, a senior loan underwriter at Thrivent Credit Union.

How is your credit score calculated?

Here are the five factors that make up your FICO® Score*, and a tip for each:

  • Payment history (35%): Pay your loan and credit card bills on time. Even if you only can afford the minimum, consistency matters.*
  • Amounts owed (30%): Watch your credit utilization ratio—the amount of debt you’re carrying compared to the credit you have available.*
  • Length of credit history (15%): Establish credit early and consider keeping your oldest accounts open, assuming they don’t charge you fees.**
  • New credit (10%): If you’ve recently applied for new credit, your score may temporarily go down.
  • Credit mix (10%): Have a variety of accounts including revolving (i.e.,credit cards and credit lines that you can repeatedly use and pay down) and installment accounts (think mortgages and other loans that you pay off over time).***

What doesn’t affect your credit score?

  • Your income.
  • Your savings or investment balances.
  • Use of debit cards or prepaid cards.
  • Bills that aren’t credit accounts, such as utilities and rent. However, if a delinquent account gets turned over to a collection agency, this can show up on your credit report and affect your FICO® Score*.
  • Traffic tickets, library fines and other municipal fees.

What’s the difference between a credit score and a credit report?

The three-digit FICO® score* is a calculation based on the detailed information contained within your credit report. There are three nationwide credit bureaus (Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®) who each track the credit histories of all Americans.

Federal law gives you the right to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus every year. To obtain your free reports, visit or call 1-877-322-8228. It’s important to check your credit report every year to be sure the information is accurate, complete and up-to-date.

If something in your credit report raise concerns about identity theft, visit ID Monitoring to learn more about a benefit available to all Thrivent clients with membership that may help you.