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How length of credit history affects your credit score

The length of your credit history makes up 15% of your FICO credit score.

Many details influence your overall credit score. The length of your credit history is minor compared to factors like payment history or credit utilization, but still accounts for 15% of your FICO credit score and 20% of your VantageScore.

What is a good length of credit history?

There’s no exact length of credit history that determines a good credit score, however according to FICO data, people with scores above 800 generally have credit histories lasting at least 10.5 years.

Even though your credit length only accounts for 15% or 20% of your credit score, having a longer credit history could earn you a higher credit score. However, since credit scores are based on complex scoring systems that analyze a variety of variables, positive actions in your payment history, credit utilization and other categories can make up for a lack of credit history.

If you’re just starting out building your credit, it’s important to note that you could be eligible for a FICO credit score once you’ve had an account for at least six months. With VantageScore, it only takes having an open account for a month or two.

How credit history is calculated

Credit score models measure the age of your oldest credit account, the age of your newest credit account and the average age of all your accounts. However, how it’s weighted in your overall credit score depends on which model is being used. FICO and VantageScore weigh credit history differently.

How FICO calculates credit history

The bulk of FICO‘s credit score variables include payment history and credit utilization, but the length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your credit score, which is more than other factors such as your credit mix or new credit are weighted.

How VantageScore calculates credit history

With VantageScore the majority of your credit score rides on payment history. However, age and mix of credit counts for a combined 20% of your credit score, equal to the weight of your credit utilization. Following those higher weighted factors is new credit, balance and available credit.

5 ways to improve your credit history

It takes time to develop and maintain good credit. But here are some ways to improve your credit score and your credit history.

  • Frequently check your credit reports. Verify that your personal information is correct and that there aren’t any errors that you should dispute.
  • Pay your bills on time. This can be easier said than done, but paying your bills on time has a huge effect on your overall credit as it’s one of the highest weighted variables in determining your overall credit score.
  • Don’t close an account. Closing accounts could lower the average age of all accounts, thereby hurting your VantageScore.
  • Become an authorized user on a friend or family’s credit card. As an authorized user, you benefit from the main user’s credit history. And as long as they make timely payments and keep low balances, your credit score can improve.
  • Avoid opening new accounts. If possible, you may want to avoid adding an excessive amount of new accounts. Each new one you open will lower the average age of your total accounts.

Bottom line

The length of your credit history makes up 15% to 20% of your credit score depending on which model is being used, and while it takes time to build your credit history, there are other ways you can build your credit while you wait.

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