Recipe for a High FICO Credit Score

11/15/2010 11:49 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The best recipes provide more than just a list of ingredients. They detail the exact methods needed to whip those ingredients into a successful dish. The elements that make up a FICO score are much like ingredients to a great meal. And while many folks may know those ingredients, they're still often unsure how to best use them to their financial advantage.

I spoke to Shon Dellinger, Vice President of, who emphasized: "Having knowledge about the different factors in play that make up a FICO score is critical to achieving financial empowerment. Payments history and amounts owed make up the largest slices of the pie, so paying bills on time and sustaining a low credit utilization ratio are key to achieving a high score. Resources on such as the FICO Forums can help consumers better familiarize themselves with the components of a FICO score as well as learn from the experiences of others who have been in similar situations."


35% Payment History
30% Amounts Owed
15% Length of Credit History
10% New Credit
10% Types of Credit Used

Payment History is the number one ingredient that makes up your score. It's basically a log of how you've paid on your accounts in the past.

Amounts Owed accounts for the second largest ingredient, listing how much you owe on specific accounts, how many accounts have a balance, what proportion of credit lines have been used, and what proportion of installment loan amounts are still outstanding.

Length of Credit History, New Credit & Types of Credit make up the remaining ingredients to your score. FICO wants to see time on your side, the number of accounts in variation, what types of new inquires and new accounts have recently hit your report, and, if you've had problems in the past, recent signs of healthy credit.

A Recipe for Success

The best scores are made from the right mix of a payment history free of collections and late payments, low balances and newly rebuilt credit. Don't forget to sprinkle in different types of credit and keep the relationship open for a long time.

Follow me over the next few weeks as I respond to direct questions from the public regarding these key credit ingredients. Maybe one will relate to you. Please email me @ with any questions you may have about your credit.

It's time to get cooking!