Credit scores can be divided into three basic categories: superprime, prime, and subprime. Superprime credit scores are the most desirable, those credit scores closest to 850. A prime credit score would likely fall somewhere near or above 720, and a subprime credit score generally falls under 620. (These are rough estimates, and each institution will have its own idea of a “good” or “bad” credit score.) If you fall into the subprime category, don’t lose hope.

There are steps you can take to raise your credit score to the prime category.

What is Subprime?

A subprime credit score is generally considered bad and indicates a history of credit issues. Subprime credit scores can keep you from certain opportunities like receiving a loan or qualifying for credit cards. Those with prime (or superprime) credit scores find these opportunities easier, and they will get additional perks like lower interest rates.

According to, almost thirty percent of Americans fall into the subprime credit category. The good news is that credit scores change all the time. You can make the necessary changes to improve your credit score by first understanding what factors into building credit.

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Factors in a Credit Score

Your bill payment history and quantity of debt are the biggest factors in totaling your credit score. (These two combined factors contribute to 65 percent of your credit score.)

The Balance reviews the following five factors which total into your credit score:

  • Bill payment history. When you make payments in a timely fashion, it will show in your credit score. Your bill payment history composes approximately thirty-five percent of your credit score.
  • Debt. The debts you owe impact about a third (thirty percent) of your credit score. When you pay off old debts, it’s sure to improve your score with time.
  • Time. How long you’ve had a credit history affects your credit score by fifteen percent, and every time you open and close accounts you alter your credit score.
  • Types of credit. When you show you can manage different kinds of credit (revolving accounts and installment loans), lenders see this. This factors into ten percent of your credit score.
  • Credit inquiries. A credit inquiry is made whenever you apply for a loan, but when multiple inquiries are made in a short time, it could affect that remaining ten percent of your score.

If you want to improve your credit score, pay attention to the factors mentioned above and worry less about things like debit card usage (which do not factor into your credit score). If you pay attention and take positive action, you could improve your credit score this year.

How to Raise a Credit Score

You raise your credit score by continuously putting forth the effort to do so. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Bankrate and give more pointers on how to improve credit scores. Here are some highlights:

  • Check for accuracy. Awareness is key. There may be inaccuracies which require your attention. If not, you will still have a better understanding of what you’ve been doing to hurt your credit score than when you started.
  • Plan to improve. Set goals, be consistent, and take care of all the little details you’ve been putting off (or haven’t been aware of). Some credit sites help you plan a course of action and observe how your actions today could affect your credit score months down the road.
  • Take care of collection accounts. Pay off your debts. It will pay off for you.
  • Get a credit card. Use a credit card to improve your credit score. Just don’t max out the card. If you can pay off the balance in full each month, do that.
  • Make payments on time. Make payments on time, all the time (or early if you can afford it).
  • Strong credit age. Keep old accounts in good standing and avoid opening too many new accounts.
  • Limit credit applications. A few applications won’t affect you too much, but a bunch of them in a short time could hurt your score.
  • Improve your credit utilization ratio. Pay attention to your credit limits and don’t borrow more than thirty percent of the limit.

It takes some time, but with a little patience (and a lot of effort) you can make some major improvements to your credit score.

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Time it Takes to Raise a Credit Score

Raising a credit score is more of a long-term goal, but through a little patience and effort, you could see an improvement within a year, maybe even within a few months. Remember that your credit score is dependent on you, but it also depends on how often your credit information is updated.

Take as much positive action as you can, and avoid missing payments or making late payments. You need to be present and you need patience when raising your credit score. It helps if you are aware of what you are currently doing to your credit score so you can set goals for tomorrow.

If you have low subprime credit, you can expect to be working at improving your credit score for a while. Never lose hope; raising a credit score is about patience and consistency. A subprime score could give you nightmares, but with a little nurturing, it could transform into the credit score you dream about when you dream of tomorrow.