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Master the Five Factors That Feed FICO This Fall

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We're still enjoying the blistering heat of summer, but fall is soon approaching. You might have been on vacation this summer and fall is often thought of as a time to get back to normal.

For some people, summer is also time to take a vacation from paying attention to credit. That hot new bikini and those fabulous flip-flops are easily put on your credit card. But now that fall is here and we're getting back to normal, it's time to pay attention to your credit again.

If you're wondering how to improve your credit this fall, one way is to master the 5 factors that "feed" your FICO score.

Your payment history accounts for up to 35 percent of your credit score. What can you do this fall to improve how promptly you pay your bills on time? Consider automated payments that come directly out of your bank account or even just an "old school" wall calendar that marks the payment due dates each month.

Your balances owed accounts for up to 30 percent of your credit score. What can you do this fall to improve your balances owed? You should aim to bring your amounts owed on credit cards down to 20 percent of the high credit limit. Consider doing a short-term "pay-down-my-credit-cards" challenge to achieve that goal this fall.

Length of credit history accounts for up to 15 percent of your credit score. What can you do this fall to improve your length of credit history? This one is easy! Just keep your accounts active by making sure that you have used all of your credit cards periodically, and, don't cancel unused accounts.

New credit accounts for up to 10 percent of your credit score. What can you do this fall to improve this aspect of your credit score? One thing to do is to temporarily cut out all inquiries for the entire season (don't apply for new credit cards, car loans, mortgages, etc.) to potentially improve your score with a few months of no inquiries.

Types of credit accounts for up to 10 percent of your credit score. What can you do this fall to improve the types of credit you have? First, make sure you have a variety of credit types (revolving loans, such as credit cards; and installment loans, such as a mortgage or car loan). If you don't, then consider "breaking" the above rule (about no new credit) and get yourself a new type of loan.

Summer is nearly over and for many households, that means everything "goes back to normal." My daughter goes back to school and routine starts all over again. If your credit score has taken a summer vacation, it's time to make some commitments to yourself to make some changes there, too.

Email me your credit question JeanneKelly@TheCreditOwl.com