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How to Build Your Credit

The top 5 things that affect your credit score

Understanding what affects your credit score can help you take control of your credit.

We can help you closely track your FICO® Score and work to improve it over time. To begin, visit Credit Close-Up to get complimentary access to monthly credit updates

What affects your credit score

Payment history

The most important thing is that you pay all your bills on time, every time. This has the biggest impact on your credit score, accounting for 35% of your overall FICO® Credit Score. Once a payment is reported at least 30 days past due, it is considered delinquent and can damage your credit score. Keep in mind that this may apply to many of your bills, not just loans and credit cards.

How much you owe

Using your entire credit limit may have a negative impact on your credit score. How much you owe makes up 30% of your score. It’s better to keep balances low. If you plan to carry a balance on your credit card, try to stay below a 30% utilization rate (credit limit). To calculate this, divide your total balance by your total credit limit, multiply by 100 to see your credit utilization rate as a percentage. When it comes to a utilization rate, the lower the better while still maintaining activity on your account.

Credit history

How long you’ve been using credit also matters and accounts for 15% of your FICO® Credit Score. The longer, the better. So if you are new to credit or rebuilding credit, start building a good credit history now. You may also want to think twice before closing any credit accounts, as keeping accounts open and active can help you build your credit history.

Types of credit

Credit mix determines 10% of your FICO® Credit Score. Your credit score may improve if you have different types of credit, such as auto loans, credit cards, student loans, and so on, provided they stay current and in good standing.

Debt-to-income ratio (DTI)

While this isn’t directly part of how your credit score is calculated, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) helps determine if you may be able to comfortably afford to make your payments. DTI is the percentage of how much you make each month that you have to pay on recurring payments, like a credit card. When you apply for credit, lenders evaluate your DTI to help determine whether you can afford to take on another payment. If your DTI gets too high, it can negatively affect your ability to pay your bills on time, which impacts your credit score. Standards and guidelines vary, most lenders like to see a DTI below 35%, but some mortgage lenders allow up to 43─45% DTI, with some FHA-insured loans allowing a 50% DTI. For more on Wells Fargo’s debt-to-income standards, and to learn what your debt ratio means, use our online Debt-to-income calculator.


Building good credit depends on your ability to pay back what you borrow. Start small with what you can comfortably pay each month along with your other obligations.