Are you confused about what categories help comprise your credit score? In general, credit scores are created using complex formulas, but the basics are actually fairly simple to understand.

Five Factors Make Up Your FICO® Credit Score

While there are several different companies that provide credit scores, FICO® Scores are used by 90% of top lenders and are the credit scores to know.  While the exact FICO® Score formula is proprietary, FICO provides educational information on how it uses information from your credit report to calculate FICO® Scores.1  Additionally, according to FICO, these percentages refer to the general population, but for some groups, such as consumers who have not been using credit long, the relative importance of the categories may be different.

Payment History: 35%

At generally 35% of the calculation, one of the most significant categories in your FICO® Score is your payment history — the historical record of whether you’ve paid your credit accounts on time. This information includes records from credit cards, retail accounts, mortgages and other types of loans. It also looks at public records including bankruptcies, foreclosures, lawsuits, wage attachment and liens. For each late payment, the scoring formula takes into account how late the payment was, how much was owed and how recent the delinquency was.

Amounts Owed: 30%

The next most important category in your FICO® Score is the amount of money you owe lenders. This includes not just the total amount of your outstanding balances, but how that compares to the total amount of credit you’ve been extended, which is called your credit utilization ratio. Typically, the lower your credit utilization, the better.

Length of Credit History: 15%

Another category in your FICO® Score is the length of your credit history, as those with a longer record of repaying loans are seen as being more creditworthy. The FICO® Score looks at the age of your oldest account, as well as the average age of all your accounts.

New Credit: 10%

This piece of a FICO® Score refers to the number of new credit accounts you’ve applied for or opened. This is relevant since those who apply for many new loans in a short period of time could be seen as posing a greater repayment risk to lenders.

Credit Mix: 10%

Additionally, another category in your FICO® Score is the different types of credit accounts you have open, including credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, vehicle loans and a home mortgage. And while you don’t need to have every type of credit account, this factor may be more important for people who have a limited credit history.2

How to Use This Information

By understanding how information from your credit history is used to create your credit score, you can take steps to manage your credit accounts responsibly.


FICO® Credit Score Terms: Your FICO® Credit Score, key factors and other credit information are based on data from TransUnion® and may be different from other credit scores and other credit information provided by different bureaus. This information is intended for and only provided to Primary account holders who have an available score. See about the availability of your score. Your score, key factors and other credit information are available on and cardmembers are also provided a score on statements. Customers will see up to a year of recent scores online. Discover and other lenders may use different inputs, such as FICO® Credit Scores, other credit scores and more information in credit decisions. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

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