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What key factors impact my credit scores?

To help you better understand credit scores, Credit Karma provides insights to explain some of the key factors that can impact credit scores.

The information you see on Credit Karma is based on your most recent credit reports, so if you’ve recently made a change, like paying off a credit card balance, it may not be reflected yet. If you’re wondering how long it’ll take to see these updates, read up on the speed and frequency of these updates.

Credit Card utilization

This is how much of your available credit you’re currently using. Lower credit utilization rates suggest to creditors that you can use credit responsibly without relying too heavily on it, so a low credit utilization rate (under 30%) may be correlated with higher credit scores.

Payment history

Payment history looks at how consistently you’ve made payments. Since  credit scores are meant to provide lenders a better idea of how likely a consumer is to pay back a debt, even one missed payment can heavily impact your scores.

Derogatory marks and public records

Late payments, bankruptcies and collections accounts can have long-term impact on your credit, typically lasting seven to ten years on a credit report depending on the type of event. Read more here to learn more about derogatory marks and how to work with them if they appear on your credit reports.

Age of credit history

Age of credit history refers to the length of time you’ve been using credit. Read up on how age of credit history can affect your scores here.

Total accounts

This isn’t the most heavily weighted factor, but lenders typically like to see that you've used a variety of accounts responsibly. That’s why this factor is sometimes referred to as credit mix.

Credit inquiries

There are generally two types of inquiries, hard inquiries and soft inquiries. Hard inquiries generally occur when a financial institution checks your credit when making a lending decision. A hard inquiry tends to cause a drop to your credit score and is removed from your credit report after around two years’ time, though their effects tend to fade over time. You can see hard inquiries reported under credit factors.  

A soft inquiry (like what happens when you check your credit scores on Credit Karma) usually happens when a person or company checks your credit as part of a background check, for example. There is no impact to your credit from a soft credit inquiry, which is why we don’t show your soft credit inquiries on Credit Karma.

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