1. The first credit card ever was released in 1951 and issued by the American Express company.
2. People often talk about their “credit score” as if they had just one. In fact, there are more than 100 credit scoring models used by banks, lenders, and financial institutions.
3. But FICO is the biggest and most recognizable credit scoring model. FICO is an acronym for the “Fair Isaac Corporation” and is based on the risk-predicting algorithms developed by mathematician Earl Isaac and engineer Bill Fair in 1956, and then rolled out in the 1980s as a credit scoring system.
4. Did you know that these days, credit scores are even influencing people’s dating decisions? It’s true, as surveys show that the majority of people would consider someone’s credit score before dating them or getting in a relationship. There’s even an online dating site called CreditScoreDating.com with the motto, “Credit Scores are Sexy!”
5. Millennials – and especially college kids – are really missing the boat when it comes to keeping good credit scores. In fact, Millennials have the lowest Vantage credit scores of any generation, including Gen X (ages 30-46), Baby Boomers (47-65), and the Greatest Generation (66+).
6. Speaking to that point, surveys show that 85% of U.S. college students don’t even know their own credit score!
7. These days, your credit score impacts far more than just buying a house or getting a good rate on your credit card, as many employers now check the credit reports of their potential applicants. In fact, 1 in 4 Americans looking for a job have been subjected to a credit check, and 1 in 10 has been disqualified from getting hired because of something on their credit report!
8. According to reports by the Department of Labor, occupations that routinely check a job applicant’a credit include: 1) parking booth operator, 2) the military, 3) accounting, 4) mortgage loan originator, 5) Transportation Security Administrator (TSA), 6) law enforcement and 7) temporary service positions and many more.
9. FICO scores are based on a complex (and secretive_ algorithm that factors every nuance of credit behavior from tens of millions of consumers. Their programs then look for patterns that will help them predict future defaults (or on-time payments) for borrowers, which they then translate as a numeric spectrum of risk for lenders, or your credit score.
10. These days, an estimated 33% (one out of every three) of all American adults do not pay their bills on time every month!
11. How much bad credit card debt do the big banks take a loss on every year? Last year, the top 100 banks in the U.S. had an average charge-off rate of 3.87%, which means that nearly 4 out of every 100 people don’t pay,
12. Last year, the average Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for all U.S. credit cards was 13.14% – another great reason to build up your credit score and get out of debt this year!
13. About 19 countries around the world use some form of FICO scores, and many more have their own credit scoring system.
14. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults – or 144 million people – haven’t even looked at their credit report within the last 365 days.
15. And one-third of working-age Americans don’t even have a clue what their credit score is!
16. Visa is by far the biggest credit card in the U.S., with 278 million cards at home (that’s about one for every adult in our population!). Mastercard is next with 180 million cards
But while Visa has 522 million cards across the globe, MasterCard just beats them out with 551 million cards abroad.
17. Visa is also the largest credit card in the U.S. by sales volume, with $981 billion in annual charges. MasterCard is second with about $534 billion in yearly debt from cardmembers.
18. The average U.S. consumer has 13 credit accounts listed on their credit report, which includes 9 credit cards and 4 installment loans. (But remember, that doesn’t mean they’re all open and active, just reporting.)
19. In the 1990s, America saw an explosion of personal debt levels that was unprecedented. One of the main causes was the fact that banks, lenders, and financial institutions starting using credit scores en masse to help them gauge risk and make faster, more accurate decisions.
20. In fact, in 1995, the nation’s two largest mortgage financing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, started advising lenders to use FICO scores for their borrowers, allowing the floodgates on lending to tens of millions of Americans.
21. But at first, FICO didn’t want to reveal how they calculated a consumers credit score, opting to keep it a secret. But under intense pressure from financial advocates and governmental influence, in 2003 they released a list of 22 factors that go into their credit scoring model. That same year, the U.S. Congress passed a new law that granted consumers the right to access their credit score.
22. Remember that credit scoring systems weren’t designed to help consumers and the general public, but lenders and companies. Therefore, credit scoring models, reports, and computations weren’t supposed to be easy for the average person to understand!
23. Insurance companies are using credit scores and reporting like never before. In fact, insurance actuarials prove that the lower a customer’s credit score, the more likely they are to file an insurance claim – costing their insurer money.
24. These days, 90% of homeowners and auto insurance companies use credit score as a factor when assigning and rating premiums! Therefore, insurance companies reward customers with good credit scores, and your premiums will be much lower than for those with a low credit score.
25. If you want to improve your credit score (and keep it high), then try to only keep credit cards from well-respected, major banks, like VISA, Mastercard, American Express, etc.). They’ll show that you’re a better steward of your finances and a more responsible debt holder than if you open accounts with lesser known finance companies, retail cards, etc., and your credit score will reflect that.
Look for part 2 of this blog, with 25 more things you didn’t know about credit scores, credit reporting, and debt!