Commercials frequently tout the ability of consumers to check their free credit reports and score once per year. While you may not know what goes into a credit score, it can definitely affect your ability to get a loan. Your credit score will also impact the interest rate that you’ll have to pay on any loan that’s available. Here are some things that can really affect a person’s credit score.

Payment History

The most important thing that a person can do to positively impact their credit score is pay off debt in a timely fashion. Making even the minimum payment required by the due date each month will be a positive factor that the main credit bureaus will use when calculating your credit score. Even one late payment will cause a serious dent in your score.

Account Age

Those who offer credit like to see borrowers that have a lengthy credit history. The best way to age an account is to keep an old credit card open, even if it’s not had much use in recent years. Those who have a 20-year history of paying off debt reliably should get a much better credit rating than an 18-year-old who’s just started college with a credit card that has a $1,000 limit.

Credit Usage

Banks and other lenders give the best rates to those who utilize a small amount of their available credit. Many people will close down an account that they no longer use, but this is not always the best move to make when looking to improve a credit score. Banks like to see borrowers who use less than 30 percent of their available credit each month. This means that a person with a $10,000 limit on a credit card should keep their outstanding balance to less than $3,000 to maximize their credit score.

Types of Credit Utilized

Those who have only a credit card bill on their credit card will frequently have a lower score than those who have car loans and/or home mortgages also showing up on their account. The ability to keep up with multiple types of credit on a monthly basis can have a positive impact on a person’s FICO score.

Recent Inquiries

Experts estimate that a person’s credit score is dinged by somewhere between two and five points each time a creditor makes a hard pull on their credit history. Those who want to ensure that they do not have a major negative impact should only look to two or three banks for a credit card, home loan or vehicle loan at any one time. This small ding will fall of the report as a person’s credit history ages.

There are many things that can affect your credit score. The most important strategy for maintaining a high score is the prompt payment of all debts when they are due. These others impacts might not count as much, but those who pay attention to them over time will see their credit score rise eventually