Credit-Scoring Factor #1: Payment History

In my book about how to build credit, 7 Steps to a 720 Credit Score, I remind readers that a clean payment history is only one aspect of a good credit score. That said, it is among the most important aspects, counting for 35 percent of a credit score.
The credit-scoring bureaus use 22 criteria to design the intricate formulas used to determine a credit score. These criteria can be segregated into five factors (“What Are the Credit Score Factors?):

  1. Payment history
  2. Outstanding balances
  3. Age of credit
  4. Type of credit
  5. Credit inquiries

This blog focuses on the first: payment history.
This portion of the credit-scoring formula looks at:

  • Your payment history on revolving accounts such as credit cards, retail accounts such as gas cards, installment loans such as car loans, finance accounts, mortgages, and other credit accounts. I think it goes without saying that the formula responds better if a credit report has no late payments.
  • The severity of late payments. A 30-day-late payment will be judged less severely than a 120-day late payment. And an account sent to collections will cause the score to drop even more.
  • The presence (or lack thereof) of repossessions, collections, charge offs, and public records such as bankruptcies, judgments, and foreclosures. The fact of bankruptcies and other severe defaults will hurt your score the most, especially if they have happened recently.
  • The recency of late payments. Your payment history if weighed on a scale with the most recent payment activity given more weight than past activity For this reason, recent late payments will affect your score more negatively than aging ones. This is because the scoring models assuming that current behavior is a far better predictor of your future behavior than is past behavior.

In fact, if your prior credit report is spotless but you make on late payment, your score will probably experience a sharp drop. This is because the scoring bureaus will assume you have had a shift in your financial situation. If you make late payments all the time, the scoring bureaus will eventually start making gradual deductions.
This is not to say that one or two late payments will cause your score to plummet so drastically that you are unable to qualify for a loan. One or two blemishes on an otherwise strong credit report might be overlooked. However, if you have a high credit score and make a late payment, you will be docked more points than if you already have a low credit score and make a late payment.
In other words, your payment history is a critical component of your credit score. However, the most important part of this is your recent behavior. The past two years of your payment history are far more revealing than behavior that occurred five or six years ago. And with some exceptions (e.g., bankruptcies, which stay on a credit report for ten years), your payment history from eight years ago is a moot point as most items fall off a credit report in seven years.
In my free teleseminar, I talk about how banks use your payment history to legally rob you of your hard-earned money. Be sure to check it out!