Most People Don’t Know This Key Fact About Credit Scores

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

A man is confused about his credit score
Dean Drobot /

The single most important factor in determining your credit score is your payment history. Pay on time, and your score soars. Miss payments, and the score will sink.

Yet, 62% of Americans are in the dark about the fact that their payment history impacts their score more than anything else, according to a recent survey from CompareCards. The website says:

“The survey results made clear that while many Americans have dutifully checked their credit score in the recent past and know how important it is to their financial health, most of us still aren’t sure about what factors and behaviors play into the making of a credit score.”

Other survey findings include:

  • 32% have held off paying down debt, falsely believing their score would suffer if they didn’t carry at least some debt.
  • 41% believe their score would suffer if they check it too often, but that also is not true.

In reaching its results, CompareCards commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,241 Americans.

How to boost your credit score

Paying your bills on time is indeed of utmost importance if you are trying to boost your credit score.

Lenders use the FICO score more than any other in determining how much of a credit risk you are. The factors your FICO score is based on are:

  • Payment history: 35%
  • Amounts owed: 30%
  • Length of credit history: 15%
  • New credit: 10%
  • Credit mix: 10%

Having a great credit score can be a crucial asset to your financial life. In particular, a great credit score can get you the best rates on loans, such as car loans and home mortgages.

A bad credit score is likely to cause you to pay more for your loan — if you can get the loan at all.

While paying your bills on time every time is the cornerstone of building a great credit profile, there are other things you can do to lift your score.

For more tips on building your score, check out:

It’s tough to raise your credit score if you’re drowning in debt. Need help getting back to dry land? Stop by the Money Talks News Solutions Center and find expert — and free — credit counseling help.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.