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What Is Credit History And Factors Which Effect It

Sep 16, 2008
Credit history or credit report is, in many countries, a record of an individual's or company's past borrowing and repaying, including information about late payments and bankruptcy. The term "credit reputation" can either be used synonymous to credit history or to credit score.

In the U.S., when a customer fills out an application for credit from a bank, store or credit card company, their information is forwarded to a credit bureau. The credit bureau matches the name, address and other identifying information on the credit applicant with information retained by the bureau in its files.

This information is used by lenders such as credit card companies to determine an individual's credit worthiness; that is, determining an individual's willingness to repay a debt. The willingness to repay a debt is indicated by how timely past payments have been made to other lenders. Lenders like to see consumer debt obligations paid on a monthly basis.

The other factor in determining whether a lender will provide a consumer credit or a loan is dependent on income. The higher the income, all other things being equal, the more credit the consumer can access. However, lenders make credit granting decisions based on both ability to repay a debt (income) and willingness (the credit report) as indicated in the past payment history.

These factors help lenders determine whether to extend credit, and on what terms. With the adoption of risk-based pricing on almost all lending in the financial services industry, this report has become even more important since it is usually the sole element used to choose the annual percentage rate (APR), grace period and other contractual obligations of the credit card or loan.

How credit rating is determined

Credit ratings are determined differently in each country, but the factors are similar, and may include:

Payment record - a record of bills being overdue, generally being more than 30 days, will lower the credit rating.

Control of debt - Lenders want to see that borrowers are not living beyond their means. Experts estimate that non-mortgage credit payments each month should not exceed more than 15 percent of the borrower's after tax income.

Signs of responsibility and stability - Lenders perceive things such as longevity in the borrower's home and job as signs of stability.

Re-Aging - Through re-aging, a credit history is re-written and you are given a fresh start on that particular account. This can dramatically improve the credit score. In 2000 the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFEIC) clarified guidelines on re-aging accounts for delinquent borrowers.

Credit outstanding--Lenders don't like to see the amount of credit owed bumping up against the credit limit of a card. Generally, a good idea is to owe no more than one-third of your total credit limit on a credit card.

Credit inquiries--An inquiry is a notation on a credit history file. There are several kinds of notations that may or may not have an adverse effect on the credit score. Soft pulls don't affect the credit score and are characteristic of the following examples:

A credit bureau may sell a person's contact information to an advertiser wanting to offer credit cards, loans and insurance based on certain criteria that the lender has established. A creditor also checks a person's credit periodically. Or, a credit counseling agency, with the client's permission, can obtain a client's credit report with no adverse action. Each of the preceding examples are commonly referred to as a "soft" credit pull.
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