5 Top Things That Influence Your Credit Score

For consumers all over the U.S., having a good credit score can bring a range of big benefits, including lower interest rates, easier loan approval, waived security-deposit fees, better insurance rates and even more housing options — just to name a few. And in an effort to help our customers leverage some of these benefits for themselves, we discussed seven ways to quickly increase your credit score in a previous Arthur State Bank blog article.

But just what aspects of your finances have the biggest impacts on your credit score? Today, we’ll take a look at some of the financial factors that can be your credit score’s most significant influencers.

Consider these five things that have the biggest bearing on whether your FICO credit score — the measure used by most lenders to assess your creditworthiness — brings you financial benefits or presents you with persistent money-related challenges:

    1. Payment history: When lenders allow you to borrow money, their biggest concern is getting their money back. And this is reflected in your credit history being the most important factor affecting your credit score. Accounting for a whopping 35% of your total FICO score, this factor examines the timeliness of your past payments on credit cards, loans and other bills, along with how frequently you’ve been late making your payments and how long any late payments remained past due. When you’re late making payments on your debts, this can affect your credit score for up to seven years. It’s also worth noting that, in most cases, a late payment won’t be reported to Equifax, Experian or TransUnion (the three major credit bureaus) until it’s 30 or more days late — so don’t panic if you discover that you’ve accidentally missed a payment. Further, one solid strategy for avoiding late payments is to set up automatic payments for recurring bills.
    2. Credit utilization: The second most important factor in your credit score is your credit utilization, a measure of the amount of money you owe in relation to the total amount of credit you’ve been approved for — across all your lines of credit. Expressed as a percentage and known as your credit utilization ratio, this figure accounts for 30% of your FICO score. As an example, for a borrower who owes a total of $5,000 and whose total lines of available credit are $20,000, the credit utilization in this case would be 25%. Financial experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio well below 30% (both on individual lines of credit and across your credit lines as a whole) for the best credit-score results. Of note here, having high levels of approved credit and keeping your credit-line debts to a minimum is a recipe for credit score success here.
    3. Length of credit history: A factor that examines how long your lines of credit have been open, this component accounts for 15% of your FICO credit score — so having a long history of using credit and making on-time payments can provide a boost in this area. According to FICO, a trio of factors come into play here:
      • the longevity of your lines of credit, including the ages of your oldest and newest accounts, plus the average age of all your lines of credit
      • how long specific lines of credit have been established and available to you
      • the length of time that has passed since you’ve used particular accounts
      A smart tactic to consider here is to keep old credit lines open even after you’ve paid off all your debt on them, as this will help increase the average age of your credit accounts.
    4. Credit mix: Having and responsibly using a range of different types of credit — from revolving credit like credit cards and retail accounts to installment loans, mortgages, auto loans and finance company accounts — can also provide a boost to your credit score. Known as your credit mix, this factor accounts for 10% of your FICO score.
    5. New lines of credit: Accounting for the final 10% of your FICO credit score, this credit score factor examines the number of new credit accounts you’ve applied for recently. When you apply for a new credit card, a mortgage or another type of loan, a “hard inquiry” appears on your credit report when the lender behind the loan checks your credit file — and this can temporarily have a negative impact on your credit score (12 months with FICO). If a potential lender sees a high number of recent hard inquiries over a short period of time, it can indicate to them that you may be a high-risk borrower — which may cause the lender to reject your application. (An important note to consider here: Requesting your own free credit report from one of the three major credit-reporting agencies does not constitute a hard inquiry and will not impact your credit score.)


Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings to retirement accounts, mortgages, other personal loans and more, visit arthurstatebank.com.

Arthur State Bank graphic
Man doing his banking online

AnnualCreditReport.com is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.