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Your Credit Score
Q: What is a credit score?
A: A credit score is a number that reflects the information in your credit report. The score summarizes your credit history and helps lenders predict how likely it is that you will repay a loan and make payments when they are due. Lenders may use credit scores in deciding whether to grant you credit, what terms you are offered, or the interest rate you will pay on a loan.
Information used to calculate your credit score can include:
- the number and type of accounts you have (credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, etc.);
- whether you pay your bills on time;
- how much of your available credit you are currently using;
- whether you have any collection actions against you;
- the amount of your outstanding debt; and
- the age of your accounts.
Q: What can cause my credit score to change?
A: Because your credit score reflects the information in your credit report, changes to your credit report may cause your credit score to change. For instance, if you pay your bills late or incur more debt, your credit score may go down. However, if you pay down an outstanding balance on a credit card or mortgage, or correct an error in your credit report, your credit score may go up.
Q: How can I get my credit score?
A: In some cases, a lender may tell you your credit score for free when you apply for credit. For example, if you apply for a mortgage, you may receive the credit score or scores that were used to determine whether the lender would extend credit to you and on what terms. You may also receive a free credit score or scores from lenders when you apply for other types of credit, such as an automobile loan or a credit card.
You may also purchase your credit score from any of the credit reporting agencies by calling them or visiting their websites.
Q: How can I improve my credit score?
A: To find out steps you can take to improve your credit score, read the Federal Reserve Board's 5 Tips: Improving Your Credit Score.
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