What We Learned Analyzing Over 10 Million Credit Scores

Learn how to increase your credit score based on all the data that’s available. Dan Wesley has researched all of the data on credit scores and the factors that influence them. Learn how he improved his credit score using the data so you can too.

I know what it's like to have your life changed by accessing money when you need it.

From being able to pay for college books, to be able to buy a car without my parents' help,

I learned long ago the power of a good credit score.

I've dedicated my life to learning how to help people overcome barriers to credit.

And it all started by learning about the data.

I believe that people deserve to live the life they want.

I've helped make that happen for over 2 million people.

They got the funds they needed when they needed them with my help.

With my support, they've been able to access over $1 billion to live the lifestyle they want.

For a lot of the people, getting access to the money they need is pretty easy.

But some people are in the same situation I was in after I left college.

I was living paycheck to paycheck, hoping and praying I would not have any monetary emergency.

How Frequently Do Employees Live Paycheck to Paycheck? (2017)

Then, there are some people who aren't aware of how credit data works.

That means that their bad credit score is working against them when they apply for loans.

Fortunately, what I learned is that by understanding how credit data works, you can change yours.

We've done a ton of research to get you all the up-to-date data you need to make that change yourself.

We've looked at 10.12 million people's credit data. What that data tells us is the key to improving your bad credit score.

Do you feel like you have no control over your credit?

Would you like to be able to make choices about what you borrow?

Are you sick of lenders always dictating the terms?

Or worse, are you getting denied credit time and time again?

Is the system rigged against you?

Only if you let it!

Your real problem is that you haven't been making credit decisions based on data.

You might not even be aware of it but the data is out there about your past credit behavior.

And it could be working against you.

The mistakes you made with your credit in the past don't just "go away." They've been recorded. The result is that you have a lousy credit score.

That little piece of data is the rating that lenders check out before they decide whether or not to give you credit.

Your low credit score can affect your ability to borrow – or even get an apartment! – for many years.

Not paying attention to your low credit score is downright dangerous.

In a six month period, my score took a major hit shortly after college, all because I did not get the repayment booklet in the mail for my student loans, and simply did not think anything of the loan repayments starting.

This was rough, but could have been a lot worse.

When you're ready to buy a home and want a mortgage, you'll get denied.

If you need a car loan to get to your new job, you'll be refused.

If you apply for a credit card with rewards or cash back, you'll get declined.

The lifestyle you deserve will be out of reach.

And it could get even worse. Nearly half (47%) of employers use credit checks when making hiring decisions.

How can you improve your credit score if you can't even land a decent job?

More than half of Americans don't even know their credit score. I was once one of those people – are you one of them?

One day I decided to change that, and it changed my life. I decided to stop letting my credit data control my options.

I learned how the data worked and started making choices to turn my credit score around.

If you're waiting for that day to come for you, keep reading. Today can be the day you take control of your credit score.

Not a lot of people know it but there are a surprising number of things anyone can do to boost their credit score, especially when you learn about the data and how credit scores work.

Understanding how credit score data works can help you take action to improve yours.

As your score improves, doors open for you.

That car loan you wanted becomes available. You can rent the apartment you want. Or get the mortgage you need to live the lifestyle you choose.

Your credit score might stink right now. But it's not carved in stone forever. You can change it.

There are lots of things you can do to take control of your credit score.

Let's make today the day you start!

1. How I used data to play Moneyball with my credit score

My story is a perfect example of why young people have lower FICO scores, as well as how you can turn that low score around.

When I was in college, I was clueless. I didn't even know what a FICO score was. And I definitely didn't make data-informed choices.

I pretty much had no credit beyond a student loan, which I did stupid things with like forgetting to start paying it back.

Student Loan Options Millennials Have Considered (2017)

I could have been building my credit score. I had a little momentum, but I crushed it. I was confused. I thought my student loan was the answer to all my ambitions.

So I racked up a ton of student loan debt. I didn't get a credit card.

Then things got real. I realized my calling was not medicine.

It was marketing. And I needed credit to go out on my own.

I was driven to succeed. I wanted to shake the status quo. But I was getting denied for credit.

So I started paying attention to what matters. I checked my credit score for the first time. It was a lowly 500. No wonder I wasn't getting approved.

I did what was necessary to change that. I got a secured credit card and put down a $500 deposit.

That was my secured credit limit. I used the card when I needed it.

I paid it back in full every month for a year.

I also applied for a one-year installment loan of $500 from my bank. I agreed to pay it off at a rate that would have it paid off in one year.

Then I paid it off in six months.

I got my report again and was surprised. My score hadn't increased at all.

So I looked closely and realized there were two mistakes!

The loan I had already paid off was listed as still unpaid. And it said I had been 60 days late on a credit card payment, which wasn't true.

I contacted the credit bureaus and showed them the mistakes.

They removed them, and 30 days later my score was up 125 points with all three bureaus.

I got the credit I needed to follow my dream of online marketing. My life was changed.

I continued to do what I needed to do to build up my score. Now I was shooting for 800!

My bank let me replace my secured credit card with an unsecured one with a higher limit.

But that doesn't mean I maxed out at the higher limit.

I kept my spending to 30% of what I had available. I knew the data and I was now playing Moneyball with my credit.

It wasn't easy. It took a lot of discipline and didn't happen overnight.

But within a couple of years, I was right up there with an excellent score.

2. Know the score!

Let's start with the obvious.

First, you need to get your FICO credit score. You shouldn't resist the urge to find out what your credit score is. If you've never got it, go get it right now!

Most people can get their score for free from their lending institution through the FICO Score Open Access program. Or you can go to myfico.com and pay for a one-time report or an ongoing report.

Did you get it? Good! What you're now looking at is a three-digit number. That's your current FICO credit score.

The highest possible score is 850. The lowest is 300. In 2017 the average credit score among Americans was 700.

That's the highest it's been since the bureaus started calculating average national credit scores back in 2005.

How did you feel when you found out your score?

Were you worried because your score is lower than the average?

Did you think you were going to score higher than you did?

It's OK.

Think of this moment as a turning point. The point in your life when you learned how to make credit decisions based on data.

When you make choices based on your credit score, you can change your credit score.

Consumers Who Are Checking Their Credit Score Every Month (2017)

And when you change your credit score, the credit options available to you also change.

It's an empowering experience to build your credit back up. Like I said, I've been there.

When you know the system you can work it in your favor.

When you know what numbers FICO is based on you can start manipulating them.

You get strategic, and it pays off!

3. Understand the data and make it work for you

You've taken the first step and you know your score.

Now let's dig into some data so you can better understand what that number means and what you can do about it.

"Data" is a word you hear a lot these days. Baseball teams are playing "Moneyball." It means they are making strategic decisions based on game data.

Marketers collect data on what you buy. That way they can target you with ads. Computers are "farming" data and "mining" data. Data is a new commodity and a hot one at that!

There is probably a lot of data available about your credit. Every American who is receiving credit has a score. And that score is based on all of their credit activity.

Every transaction is logged. Down payments, monthly payments, or missed payments – they're all recorded. That's a LOT of data.

But when you break it down it becomes understandable. And when you understand it you have the power to change the data.

When your credit score is improved, your choices improve.

You get more credit made available to you.

The interest rates you're offered are lower.

You might get a car loan with zero down payment.

You might now qualify for a rewards or cash back credit card, and perhaps you're not even sure what the difference is.

This can add up to thousands of dollars of savings over your lifetime

Your FICO Score is an average of the scores collected by three major credit bureaus. These are Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. All three find out whenever you pay your credit card bill or make a payment on a loan.

They also find out when you make a late payment or have a debt sent to a collection agency. Everything you do with your credit contributes to these scores.

If you have a low score you might get denied credit. You might have to put a deposit on a secured credit card.

You might even find that a landlord checks your lousy credit score and turns you down for an apartment.

It makes sense, then, to know as much about credit scores as you can. But don't worry if all that sounds like too much work – we've done most of it for you!

We've done a lot of research to help you learn to make data-informed decisions. FICO Scores are based on people's credit behaviors. I've reviewed and crunched the data of 10.12 million people related to their credit behaviors.

I've broken it all down for you here. Once you're aware of the data, you can start bumping up your own FICO Score.

4. So what does your FICO score actually mean?

A 650 score or lower is considered "Poor" or "Bad."

Your score stinks.

You definitely have to figure out a way to improve it.

If it's between 650-699 it's considered "Fair."

But you can do better than that.

If your FICO score is anywhere between 700-749, you've got a "Good" credit score.

And if it's 750 more you have an "Excellent" credit score.

Congrats, you're right where you want to be!

Online Daters Favor Good Credit Score Over… (2017)

Everyone's goal should be to have a credit score of 800 or higher. But that's not easy to achieve.

Your score is calculated based on five things:

1. Payment history counts for about 35% of your score

Never missed a month of paying off your credit card balance in full?

You'll have a good score. Ever made a late payment (e.g. 60 or 90 days late)? Then your score was hurt.

Missed making minimum monthly payments? That made your score worse. Hopefully, you've been able to keep on top of things.

But if you've had a rough patch, that's going to show up on your credit score.

I know. I've been there. And also came out the other side smiling.

2. Credit utilization counts for 30% of your score

Credit providers like to see a credit utilization ratio of 30% or less. So if you have a $100 credit limit, issuers want to see that you only have a balance of $30 on your card.

If you're not using all the credit that you have available, you're demonstrating that you're a low-risk consumer. If you're borrowing up to the gills, it'll show on your score.

3. Credit history length counts for 15% of your score

The longer you've had a credit card or loan, the better. It shows you've been able to successfully carry credit.

Maybe you feel loyalty to your credit card.

Or perhaps you've just been too lazy to look for a card with better terms. You're going to be rewarded with a higher score.

Don't open up a whole bunch of new cards just to have more credit available. You need to hang on to them for a while to get a higher FICO score.

4. Credit mix accounts for 10% of your score

The types of credit you've used counts for 10% of your score. Have nothing but credit cards?

You won't score well.

Also have a loan you're paying off? It helps your score.

You need to mix it up.

That way you're not putting all your credit risk in one basket.

5. New credit accounts for 10% of your score

Whether or not you've opened new accounts counts for 10% of your score. When you open a new account, it lowers your score.

This is because it looks like you need more credit.

Here is another important tip: your score is lowered every time someone requests your credit score.

Lots of requests for your credit score means you're looking around for new credit. But go ahead and ask for your own credit report – you won't get dinged with a lower score.

5. The data – where do you fit in?

Here's my methodology:

I reviewed all the research data published on FICO scores. This included geographic, age, and socio-economic demographic data.

I've also looked at data about specific types of credit (e.g. student loans, credit cards) and how they impact scores.

Using my data, you'll be able to figure out where you fit. Then you can make credit decisions that make your score better.

And a better FICO score can open up many credit doors for you.

6. Understanding FICO score data is empowering

You've checked out your score, and you've learned what factors the bureaus use to calculate it.

Now let's figure out where you stand compared to the rest of the country.

The average FICO credit score for Americans is 700 or "Good."

This is the highest it has been since the bureaus started calculating average US credit scores back in 2005.

Americans with a credit score below 600 are at an all-time low of 40 million people.

That's about 20% of people with FICO scores.

20.7% of people with FICO scores have "Excellent" scores (800+). That's real improvement since the Great Recession in 2008.

Americans Have Goals to Improve their Credit Scores (2017)

Rising American FICO scores parallel the improving economy. But it's also a result of people becoming more informed.

Equifax and FICO see 40 million unique visits to their sites a year for credit scores.

How many times should you check your FICO score every year?

29% of Americans check their credit score at least twice a year. 21% check it once a year. It's a good idea to check it at least once a year.

You can request a free report from the three major bureaus once per year.

For a long time, I didn't think checking my FICO score was important.

I couldn't care less. Lots of people feel that way.

More than half of Americans don't know their score.

36% of Americans feel there's no reason to check their scores. 8% of Americans don't check because they don't know how.

And another 8% don't check because it's too expensive.

7. The geographic data reveals some regional patterns

American credit scores differ based on state and region.

In general, northern states have higher average FICO scores while southern states have lower scores.

The states with the best average FICO scores in 2015 were: Minnesota (707), North Dakota (700), Wisconsin (698), South Dakota (697), and Massachusetts (694).

The bottom five states for FICO scores were Arkansas (653), Louisiana (650), New Mexico (648), Georgia (644), and Mississippi (642).

That's a pretty obvious geographic profile.

The further north you go, the better the scores. As you go deeper south the scores go way down.

8. Age has an impact on credit scores

Age is a demographic influence on credit scores.

The average credit score for Americans aged 18-24 is 630.23.

For the 25-34 bracket, the average score is actually lower, at 628.46.

For people 35-44 it's 629.63.

At 45-54 it starts getting better at 646.53.

But highest scores go to 55-year-olds and higher – they have an average FICO score of 696.57.

It's easy to make sense of this data around age and credit. If you're younger you're probably not getting a high credit limit right off the bat. You have no track record of managing credit.

And you have no income to secure a high credit limit. The ratio of what you owe compared to what's available hurts your score.

When you're between 25-44, you're probably just getting a mortgage or a car loan for the first time.

You haven't had many years on record with loans and credit. And you're probably coming close to maxing out what you have available.

But if you're over 55, you've probably been carrying various kinds of credit debts for decades. You've had a chance to pay credit off.

Reports show that people who identify as African American or Latino have lower confidence in their ability to access credit.

One reason for this is because members of these groups have lower credit scores.

Minority groups are more likely to not have enough credit history to even have a score.

This is called being "credit invisible."

7% of White people were found to be credit invisible in the United States. Compare that to 13% of African Americans and 12% of Latinos.

Consumers That Are Credit Invisible

In 2013, more than 64% of Whites in America had a credit score higher than 720. Meanwhile, only 41% of Latinos who used credit and 33% of African Americans scored higher than 720.

That said, the data also shows that this situation can motivate members of these groups to improve their scores.

72% of Latinos stated that they were highly motivated to increase their scores.

Compare that to 66% of the general population.

Although minorities have lower credit scores than caucasians, caucasians do have higher amounts of credit card debt.

The average credit card debt for White Americans in 2013 was $7,315. For Latinos that average was $6,066 and for African Americans it was $5,784.

10. Gender data demonstrate score differences between the sexes

On average, American women have better credit scores compared to men.

In 2016, the average Vantage Score for women was 675. The average for men was 670.

Other data can help us understand this gender difference. 63% of women aged 18-24 carried debt in 2016. That same year, only 36% of men in that age group reported having debt.

So women are more active earlier when it comes to exercising their credit. In 2016, women were 23.5% more likely to have open credit cards than men.

11. The data on credit access reveals many are "invisible"

One important piece of data is known as the "Overall Credit Economy."

That's the number of Americans who are getting some form of credit.

Do you use credit? You will be happy to know that you're not alone! 89.5% of all Americans over the age of 18 have a credit score. Almost nine out of every ten of us have used credit.

The blog Let's Talk Payments cites data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau indicating that 26 million Americans are "credit invisible."

That means they have no form of credit and therefore don't have a credit score.

Of those 26 million credit invisible Americans, 12 million of them are millennials.

12. Use credit card data to understand the market

The data shows that the average credit limit for credit cards is $8,042.

Your credit limit is tied to your credit score. People with the lowest credit scores (300-499) have an average credit card limit of $1,834. The highest credit scores (781+) have an average credit limit of $11,357.

So it is much easier for someone with a good credit score to use less of their credit that is available to them. Those with a bad credit score are not given high limits.

The data also shows that people are accessing credit card loans at high rates. The total amount of credit card debt in the US was calculated recently as $953.6 billion.That number has increased by $100 billion since 2011.

However, Americans owed less than the $1.03 trillion to credit card companies before the economic crisis in 2008.

So that means today on average adult Americans have $4,717 of credit card debt. If they all made minimum payments it would take 10 years to pay that off at the average interest rate of 15%. And they'd end up paying $18,155 in interest on a pretty small loan!

According to The Motley Fool, people's credit limits are directly related to their credit scores.

For people with Super Prime scores (781-850), the average credit limit is $9,543. For Prime scores (661-780), the average limit for credit is $5,209.

For those with a Near Prime score (601-660), the average credit limit is $2,277.

For Subprime (500-600), the average credit limit is $966. And for Deep Subprime (300-499), the average credit limit is only $509.

14. Neighborhood income data connect where people live with credit scores

The data shows differences in credit scores between low/moderate-income neighborhoods and middle/high-income areas.

Delinquency rates are often 200% higher in low/moderate income areas compared to middle/high-income ones.

Data has revealed that 30% of people living in low/moderate income neighborhoods have subprime credit scores.

15. Median family income data is directly linked to credit scores

Median family income is the point where half of the country falls beneath that income level and half the country is above it.

Median Family Income

The median family income in the United States is $55,775.

For families who make under $27,887, the average credit score is 664. For $44,062 and up, it's 716.

For middle-income households up to $110,992, it's 753.

And for upper-income American households earning more than that, it's 775.

16. Student loans have a huge impact on credit score data

Student loans have the highest delinquency rates of all forms of credit.

Student loans for low-income borrowers had default rates of 17.9%. Compare that to delinquency rates for credit cards (16.3%), car loans (10.7%), and mortgages (9.9%).

Although the delinquency rates are lower for higher-income areas, student loans still had higher rates across all accounts.

I mentioned earlier that people with low income defaulted more frequently on their student loans. Student loans are also associated with younger ages. The data also shows that student loans cause a lot of problems.

In fact, delinquency rates on student loans are the highest they've ever been today. Approximately 8 million US student loan borrowers have stopped paying around $137 billion in education debts.

That's more than the annual GDP of many countries!

17. The data tells us that having a higher credit score and lots of healthy accounts is a good thing

This was a lot of data to take in all at once, but we can definitely identify a few key lessons.

Then I'll show you some actions you can take right now to improve your credit score based on these lessons.

More credit is better but go slow. The more credit you have available the easier it is to have a good credit score.

Look at the relationship of age and income levels to FICO scores. People who were older and who made more money had higher amounts available to them.

It was easier for them to keep their ratio of credit used compared to their available credit low.

Mix it up if you can. Having multiple and varied credit accounts is a good thing. You won't get a good credit score if you don't exercise your credit. Look at the impact of age and income on FICO scores.

Older people probably had several different credit streams. And they've had them for a long period of time.

Those who have more income qualify for more forms of credit. They also get higher credit limits.

It's not enough to just have a credit card.

You have to also show that you can be trusted with a loan, and/or a mortgage to get a high score.

Don't discount the economy matters. The economy impacts peoples' credit scores.

The low credit scores in the southern states and higher credit scores in the northern states prove it.

It's also proven by the rising average FICO scores between the years of the Great Recession (2008-2010) and today.

Knowledge is power, so apply now.This one is the most important!When you know your FICO score you can better understand what credit you qualify for. Then you can do things to change it.

When you get your credit rating you're empowered. Make the most of it now that you have the data you need.

Go after credit with your eyes wide open. Do calculations to compare the rates and terms you're offered.

Then you can find the one that is best for you.

You have the power and knowledge. You can do what you need to do to make that score go up.

18. 11 things you can do right now to play "Moneyball" with your credit

Alright, it's time for action! I'm a huge sports fan and loved the movie Moneyball.

When the baseball team started using data to make their decisions it was a total game changer. They went from the bottom of the league to the World Series.

Are you ready to play "Moneyball" with your credit?

You know your score. You've seen all of my research data.

Now you can do something toincrease your credit score.

Steps Consumers Are Taking To Improve Their Credit Score (2017)

Here are 11 the things you can start doing today to improve your FICO score. There are also 3 things you shouldn't do.

They all apply if you need to move up from "Poor" to "Good" or from "Fair" to "Excellent."

Even if you've made mistakes in the past, here are some actions you can take right now to begin to gradually build your score back up.

1. Know your score!

This should now be obvious but… check your credit score!

The three credit bureaus have to each give you one report per year for free. Your lender should give you one for free through the FICO Open Access program.

Knowing your score means you know how risky you're going to appear to lenders. So you can shop around accordingly.

2. Pay your bills!

Pay all your bills on time. Especially your credit card bills.

Pay off your balance in full every month.

One tip is to get your bank to set up a payment reminder.

These are often available with online banking. You get an email or text reminding you that a payment is coming due.

There is often also an option for automatic payments. Your credit card or loan payments are automatically debited from your bank account.

However, these will only meet the monthly minimums. You should really work on doing whatever you can to pay them off in full each month.

3. Don't just pay the minimum.

The data showed us that the average American would pay four times the amount that they borrowed if they just paid the minimum on their credit card debt.

Do what you can to pay off your debt more quickly.

Once you've paid it off you can start using your credit as a tool to improve your credit rating rather than letting your debt control you.

4. Keep some credit handy.

OK, so you've paid your bills. Now try to keep your monthly credit card expenses between 10-30% of the total credit you have available.

If you can, pay off your balance more than once each month or a few days in advance of the deadline.

Charge less on your credit cards. But make sure you use them! If you keep your spending down it is easier to pay them off in full every month.

If you don't use your credit card at least a few times a month you miss out on increasing your score through activity.

5. Negotiate your limit confidently.

Contact your credit card company and request an increase in your available credit.

The data shows that people with more available credit have better credit scores. It also shows that the average credit card limit is over $8,000.

Often, if you ask your credit card company to increase your available credit they will do it. But take care, you should only do this if you can commit to keeping it paid off.

6. Be responsible with those swipes.

Pay all delinquent bills. Bills that are 60 days late negatively impact your score.

Ones that are 90 days late hurt it even more. Take care of these as a priority.

7. Take care of those student loans right away.

When I was conducting this research, the data revealed that the kind of loan with the single biggest default rate was the student loan.

Student Loan Changes Students Would Like See Implemented (2017)

I got myself into trouble with student loans, and I can testify that they cause big headaches for your credit rating.

Students loans are a great way to establish credit. But they are also a great way to establish bad credit, especially among young people.

So don't take student loans lightly or you might be paying for it well into the future.

8. Clean up your balancing act and lower your credit card debt.

We know that credit scores consider how much of the credit you have available to you is being used.

Wondering where to start when it comes to paying off your debts?

You could start with the credit card account that has the highest percentage used. Do you have several credit cards? Start paying down the one that is closest to its credit limit.

Or start with the credit card that has the highest rate of interest. But this won't always help with your credit utilization score.

Overall, cleaning up your credit card balances is probably the hardest advice to follow. But it's essential if you want to raise your score.

9. Borrow for the sake of borrowing.

Even if you've got bad credit, you can probably still get a small loan. If you need to build your credit history, you can take out a $500 loan. Then pay it off within the year.

There are lots of one-year loans designed to help you build your credit up. Even better, pay it off in six months!

10. Have your own back first.

Don't qualify for an unsecured credit card? Do what you can to get a deposit together for a secured one.

You can show that you can keep up with a card that is backed by a deposit.

Eventually, your credit card company will move you over to an unsecured card. It will reimburse your deposit and also increase your limit.

11. Look for blunders with a sharp eye!

One other piece of advice: check your credit report for mistakes. Sometimes the reports will have incorrect data.

Maybe you've paid off a loan but it still shows up as unpaid. Or a missed payment got reported by both the lender and a collection agency.

It happens more often than you think. It happened to me!

There is so much data being collected. So it's not surprising that there are frequent mess-ups. You can contact the bureaus directly and inform them of their mistakes.

Keep in mind that when you personally request to see your credit report, it doesn't count against your score.

If you use these tips to "hack" your credit score it will go up.

That can mean the difference of thousands of dollars over time.

Here's an example from the blog AffordAnything.com based on a $240,000, 30-year fixed loan term.

If you get this loan with an Excellent credit score, you'll get a 4.125% interest rate. If you have a Good credit score, you'll get it at 4.75%.

After 30 years your true cost for borrowing with an Excellent rating will be $31,366 less than if you had a Good rating.

19. 3 things you SHOULDN'T do with your credit

The data also taught us some lessons about what you shouldn't do. Heed these warnings from the data to keep your FICO score from going down.

1. Old is gold so let the plastic dust.

Don't close your credit cards! People who have credit the longest have a better score. So don't close accounts that you've had for a while.

The blog AllThingsFinance confirms that cutting up your cards looks bad to creditors.

2. New looks bad, so go slow.

Don't open a bunch of new credit card accounts you don't need either!

It's a good thing to increase your amount of available credit. But this could backfire.

Your score decreases when you create new accounts.

If you need to create a new account, try small installment plan loans we talked about above.

3. Ditch the store cards and brand loyalty.

Don't go in for store credit cards.

Reasons Consumers Apply for a Store-Branded Credit Card (2017)

It might seem like a good idea to get a discount at a retailer just for using their card. But applying for the new card can negatively impact your credit score.

Also, you better make sure you pay them off in full every month. The interest rates on these cards are the highest out there.

None of these tips and strategies are a "silver bullet." There's no quick-fix solution to building your credit score up. Most of them aren't all that easy to achieve either.

But if you take them all together and exercise discipline and patience, you can increase your score over time.

Take what you've learned about the data and start boosting your credit score today

You made the right first step and got your FICO credit score.

That's the most important piece of data you can have.

You also reviewed all of the data. So now you know how geography, economics, credit cards, income, demographics, and student loans impact credit scores.

Now it's time to use all that data to get your FICO score up.

The higher your FICO score, the more doors will be opened to you.

You'll be able to access more money at lower interest rates.

Your ability to get a loan for a car or a mortgage will be enhanced.

Hang on to the credit card you've been using the longest. Use it, but only to 30% of its max.

Always pay the full balance on time. Make sure your only credit source isn't credit cards.

Get a line of credit, a loan, or a mortgage.

All of these credit sources help improve your score. But you've got to keep up with your payments.

That doesn't mean you should go out and open as many credit card accounts as you can!

Now you know how FICO credit scores impact lending.

You can use that data to your advantage.

If you've got an Excellent credit score demand the best terms for whatever you borrow.

If you've got a Poor credit score, take the right steps to repair it and build it back up.

It will take some time but you can definitely do it based on what you learned here – you've got the power of data!

Now you're playing "Moneyball" with your credit!

We're interested in hearing your stories about your FICO credit scores.

Do you know any facts or data about credit we've missed?

Have you had success building a poor FICO score back up?

Do you have a success story like mine?

Did anyone out there ever experience the shock of a low score in the 300s?

Or feel the bliss of a perfect score of 850?

Did any doors for credit open to you when your FICO score improved?

Please comment below, we'd love to hear your take on this!

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