When Do Credit Card Companies Report to Credit Bureaus?

When Do Credit Card Companies Report to Credit Bureaus?

Your credit score is based on the information about your debts and payments reported by lenders to the three main credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The credit reporting bureaus typically ask to receive information once per month. So, credit card companies will usually report card payments to the credit reporting bureaus at the end of your card’s monthly billing cycle, also known as your statement date. Credit card companies typically spread statement dates throughout the month.

Here’s a closer look at how payments are reported to the credit reporting bureaus as well as how factors like on-time payments can affect your credit score.

How Credit Card Payments Are Reported to Bureaus

As mentioned above, credit card issuers typically report to credit bureaus on your regular billing cycle. Each credit card may report at different times, and they may report to some of the major credit bureaus and not others. Reporting is up to the lender’s discretion, so it is also entirely possible that they won’t make a report at all.

Credit bureaus may collect a variety of information, including:

•   Personal information, such as name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and employer

•   Credit account information, such as balances, payments, credit limits, credit usage, and when accounts are opened or closed

•   Credit inquiries

How Credit Scores and Reports Are Updated

The credit reporting bureaus will generally update your credit score as soon as they receive information from your credit card company. That means that your credit score could change relatively frequently as you make credit card charges, especially if you have multiple credit cards.

Also, because credit card companies only report credit activity periodically, there can be a bit of a lag in how long it takes for a payment to show on your credit card report. When you read your credit report it may not match your current account balances, instead reflecting the last information reported to the bureaus. This situation may be particularly irksome if you’ve paid off debts in hope of boosting your credit score. Fortunately, your information should be updated during the next reporting period.

However, if you notice that no changes are made after a number of months, it’s worth contacting your lender to make sure changes are reported correctly. If they can’t resolve it, you can contact the credit bureau.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

How Credit Card Balances Affect Credit Score

Credit reporting bureaus may collect information about your credit card balance. There is a popular misconception that carrying a credit card balance from month to month will help you improve your credit score. However, this is a myth. In fact, carrying a balance can actually hurt your score.

An unpaid balance is not necessarily seen as a bad thing. However, credit utilization — how much of your available credit you’re using — can have an impact on your score. If your balance exceeds 30% of your borrowing limit, it may have a negative impact on your score. Those who keep their credit utilization below 10% tend to have the highest credit scores.

It’s best to pay off your credit card balance each month to protect your credit score and to avoid racking up costly interest charges, which can cause your credit card debt to balloon.

How Applying to Credit Cards Affects Credit Score

Before you apply for a credit card, it’s important to know the difference between a hard and soft inquiry. When you apply, you will trigger what’s known as a hard inquiry when a lender requests to see your credit report. In contrast, a soft inquiry occurs when you check your own credit or use a credit monitoring service, for example. Hard inquiries will generally have a negative impact on your credit score, while soft inquiries will not.

Hard inquiries suggest that you are in the market for new credit. That may seem like a no-brainer. But in the eyes of other lenders, a hard inquiry suggests that you may be in some sort of financial stress that makes you a bigger risk for borrowing money. This is especially true if you have many hard inquiries in a short period of time.

Luckily, the hard inquiry stays on your credit report for only two years, and its effects fade relatively quickly.

In general, it’s wise to avoid causing many hard inquiries in a short period of time. There are some exceptions to that rule. If you’re shopping for a mortgage, auto loan, or new utility providers, multiple inquiries in a short period — typically 14 to 45 days — are usually counted as just one inquiry.

How On-Time Payments Affect Credit Score

Your payment history is one of the biggest factors that goes into calculating your credit score. As a result, making payments on time is one of the best things you can do to maintain a strong credit score or to improve your score.

Even a single late payment can have a negative impact on your score, though the missed payment likely will not show up on your credit report for 30 days. If you can make up the payment within that time period, your lender may not report it, though you may still be subject to late penalties.

It’s also important to understand that if you only make a partial payment, that will still usually be counted as late and reported as such to the credit bureaus.

To make sure that you pay bills on time, consider setting up a budget to help control your spending. You might also automate your bill pay to ensure you don’t miss any payment due dates. But if you do so, make sure that you have enough money in your account to cover your credit card balance.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

The Takeaway

The credit reporting bureaus collect all sorts of financial information from your various lenders to create your credit score. Your credit card company likely reports your card activity about once a month. Understanding what information has an impact on your score, and the impact of on-time payments and credit inquiries, can help you keep your score as high as possible and help keep credit card costs down.

Applying for a credit card through SoFi won’t affect your credit score, though an approved application may trigger a hard inquiry. What’s more, SoFi rewards on-time payments by lowering your APR. If you’re in the market for a new card, apply for the SoFi Credit Card today.

FAQ

What time of the month do creditors report to credit bureaus?

Creditors may report to the credit bureaus at any time of the month, though credit card companies will usually make their reports at the end of the billing cycle.

How often do companies report credit?

Credit card companies usually report to the credit bureaus once a month. However, they do so at their own discretion.

How long after paying off debt will your credit score improve?

Your credit score should improve after paying off a debt as soon as that debt payment is reported to the reporting bureaus, usually within 30 days. If your payment doesn’t show up on your report after a few months, contact your lender to make sure it was reported correctly.


Photo credit: iStock/iamnoonmai

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
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The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
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Understanding the Parent Plus Loan Forgiveness Program

Understanding the Parent Plus Loan Forgiveness Program

Parent PLUS loan forgiveness provides financial relief to parents who borrowed money to cover the cost of their children’s college or career school. It isn’t always a quick fix, but there are certain federal and private programs that might offer the financial assistance needed to help them get on track.

To receive federal relief for Parent PLUS loans, parent borrowers have a few options.

They can consolidate the loan in order to enroll in an Income-Contingent Repayment plan after 25 years, pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness after 10 years, or choose from a number of private student loan assistance programs or refinancing options.

Keep reading to learn more about what the available student loan forgiveness possibilities are for Parent PLUS loans.

Will Parent Plus Loans Be Included in Student Loan Forgiveness?

Parent PLUS loans are eligible for several of the same student loan forgiveness programs as federal student loans for students, including:

•   Borrower Defense Loan Discharge

•   Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge

•   Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

That said, Parent PLUS loans generally have fewer repayment options in the first place and the eligibility requirements for these forgiveness programs can be strict and may require borrowers to consolidate their PLUS loan, such as with PSLF. This can make it tricky for borrowers to navigate how to use these federal relief programs to their advantage.

Refinancing is another option for Parent PLUS loan borrowers — applying for a new private student loan with an, ideally, lower interest rate. That said, some lenders offer less flexibility for repayment and the fine print can be lengthy, so there’s an inherent risk associated with refinancing Parent PLUS loans. It’s also worth noting that refinancing a PLUS loan will eliminate it from any federal repayment plans or forgiveness options.

Recommended: What Is a Parent PLUS Loan?

Parent Student Loan Forgiveness Program

When it comes to student loan forgiveness, the programs aren’t just available for the students. Parents who are on the hook for student loan debt can also qualify for student loan forgiveness.

As previously mentioned, a Parent PLUS loan may be eligible for Parent Student Loan Forgiveness through two specific federal programs:

•   Income-Contingent Repayment

•   The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

There are also a few private student loan forgiveness options, which we’ll get into below.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

An Income-Contingent Repayment plan, or ICR plan, is the only income-driven repayment plan that’s available for Parent PLUS borrowers. In order to qualify, parent borrowers must first consolidate their loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, then repay that loan under the ICR plan.

•   A Parent PLUS loan that’s included in a Direct Consolidation Loan could be eligible for Income-Contingent Repayment, but only if the borrower entered their repayment period on or after July 1, 2006.

•   A Parent PLUS loan that’s included in the Federal Direct Loan Program or the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) is also eligible for ICR if it’s included in the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan.

ICR determines a borrower’s monthly payment based on 20% of their discretionary income or the amount by which their AGI exceeds 100% of the poverty line. After a 25-year repayment term, or 300 payments, the remaining loan balance will be forgiven.

Typically, the IRS considers canceled debt a form of taxable income, but the American Rescue Plan
Act of 2021 made all student loan forgiveness tax-free through 2025.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Borrowers with Parent PLUS loans may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, but in order to pursue that option must first consolidate the Parent PLUS loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Then, after they’ve made 120 qualifying payments (ten year’s worth), borrowers become eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The parent borrower (not the student) must be employed full-time in a qualifying public service job. PSLF also has strict requirements such as certifying employment so it’s important to follow instructions closely if pursuing this option.

The Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) is another option for Parent PLUS borrowers if some or all of their 120 qualifying payments were made under either a graduated repayment plan or an extended repayment plan. The catch here is that the last year of their payments must have been at least as much as they would if they had paid under an ICR plan.

Refinance Parent Plus Loans

Refinancing a Parent PLUS loan is another option that could provide some financial relief.

For borrowers who don’t qualify for any of the loan forgiveness options above, it may be possible to lower their monthly payments by refinancing Parent PLUS student loans with a private lender.

In doing so, you’ll lose the government benefits associated with your federal loans, as briefly mentioned above, such as:

•   Student loan forgiveness

•   Forbearance options or options to defer your student loans

•   Choice of repayment options

Refinancing a Parent PLUS loan into the dependent’s name is another option, which some borrowers opt for once their child has graduated and started working. Not all loan servicers are willing to offer this type of refinancing option, though.

Transfer Parent Plus Student Loan to Student

Transferring Parent PLUS loans to a student can be complicated. There isn’t a federal loan program available that will conduct this exchange, and, as mentioned above, some private lenders won’t offer this option.

That said, some private lenders, like SoFi, allow dependents to take out a refinanced student loan and use it to pay off the PLUS loan of their parent.

Alternatives to Student Loan Forgiveness Parent Plus

When it comes to Parent PLUS loans, there are a few ways to get out of student loan debt legally, including the scenarios outlined below.

Student Loan Forgiveness Death of Parent

Federal student loans qualify for loan discharge when the borrower passes away. In the case of Parent PLUS loans, they are also discharged if the student who received the borrowed funds passes away.

In order to qualify for federal loan discharge due to death, borrowers must provide a copy of a death certificate to either the U.S. Department of Education or the loan servicer.

Recommended: Can Student Loans Be Discharged?

State Parent PLUS Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Many individual states offer some sort of student loan repayment assistance or student loan forgiveness programs for Parent PLUS loan borrowers.

For an overview of options available in different states, you can take a look at The College Investor’s State-by-State Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness . For information on student loan and aid available take a look at the SoFi guide on state-by-state student aid available for borrowers.

Disability

In the event of the borrower becoming totally and permanently disabled, a Parent PLUS loan may be discharged. To qualify for a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge , borrowers must complete and submit a TPD discharge application, as well as documentation showing that they meet the requirements for being considered totally and permanently disabled. Note that in order to qualify for TPD, the parent borrower must be considered disabled. This type of forgiveness does not apply to Parent PLUS loans in the event that the student becomes disabled.

Bankruptcy

If a borrower can demonstrate undue financial hardship upon repaying the student loan, they might be able to discharge their Parent PLUS loan. Note having student loans discharged in bankruptcy is extremely rare. Proving “undue hardship” varies depending on the court that’s granting it, but most rulings abide by the Brunner test, which requires the debtor to meet all three of these criteria in order to discharge the student loan:

•   Poverty – Maintaining a minimal standard of living for the borrower and their dependents is deemed impossible if they’re forced to repay their student loans.

•   Persistence – The borrower’s current financial situation will likely continue for the majority of the repayment period.

•   Good faith – The borrower has made a “good faith” effort to repay their student loans.

Closed School Discharge

For parent borrowers whose children attended a school that closed while they were enrolled or who withdrew from the school during a “lookback period” of 120 days before its closure, a Closed School Discharge is another available form of student loan forgiveness.

In some circumstances, the government may extend the lookback period even further. For example, The Department of Education has changed the lookback period to 180 days for loans that were issued after July 1, 2020.

Borrower Defense

Borrower Defense Loan Discharge is available to Parent PLUS borrowers whose children were misled by their college or university or whose college or university engaged in certain forms of misconduct or violation of state laws.

To make a case for borrower defense, the Parent PLUS borrower must be able to demonstrate that their school violated a state law directly related to their federal student loan.

Explore Private Student Loan Options for Parents

Banks, credit unions, state loan agencies and other lenders typically offer private student loans for parents who want to help their children pay for college and refinancing options for parents and students.

Refinancing options will vary by lenders and some may be willing to refinance a Parent PLUS loan into a private refinanced loan in the student’s name. In addition to competitive interest rates and member benefits, SoFi does allow students to take over their parent’s loan during the refinancing process. Interest rates and terms may vary based on individual criteria such as income, credit score, and history.

If you decide refinancing a Parent PLUS loan makes sense for you, SoFi makes it simple. The application process is entirely online and SoFi offers flexible repayment options to help you land a loan that fits your budget. You can find your rate in a few minutes and checking if you prequalify won’t affect your credit score.*

The Takeaway

Parent PLUS Loan forgiveness offers financial relief to parents who borrowed money to help their child pay for college.

To receive federal relief for Parent PLUS loans, parent borrowers can enroll in an Income-Contingent Repayment plan, pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness, transfer their student loan to another student, take advantage of a state Parent PLUS student loan forgiveness program, or opt for private student loan assistance or refinancing.

Learn more about refinancing a Parent PLUS loan with SoFi.


*Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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What Is Impact Investing?

Impact investing is a strategy that seeks to create both financial return and positive social or environmental impact. Impact investments can be made in both publicly traded companies and private companies or funds, and can take the form of equity, debt, or other assets.

In recent years investors have become increasingly aware of potential adverse societal effects to which their investments may contribute. These can include effects on health, the environment, and human rights. As such, large firms and foundations have increasingly decided to put capital to work to minimize these negative effects. For investors, it helps to be aware of the growing trend of impact investing to determine whether it is a suitable wealth-building strategy for a portfolio.

How Does Impact Investing Work?

Impact investing is usually done by large institutional investors and private foundations, though individual investors can do it as well. These organizations invest in various areas, including affordable housing, clean water, and renewable energy. Impact investments in these areas can benefit both developed and emerging markets.

The term “impact investing” is relatively new, but the concept of investing for both financial return and social good is not. Impact investing began in the early 1900s, as numerous philanthropists created private foundations to support their causes.

Over time, the assets of these foundations grew, and the foundation trustees began to look for ways to invest the assets to support their charitable activities. Many of these early foundations were created to support causes such as education, health care, and the arts.

Recommended: What Is Asset Allocation?

The concept of impact investing has expanded to include a broader range of investors and investment vehicles. Impact investing is now practiced by individuals, foundations, endowments, pension funds, and other institutional investors.

The growth of impact investing has been fueled by several factors, including the rise of social media and the increasing availability of data and analytics. Impact investing is also being driven by the growing awareness of businesses and investors’ role in solving social and environmental problems. Individual investors can take this new knowledge and consider index funds that focus on various causes.

Recommended: Investing for Beginners: Basic Strategies to Know

Characteristics of Impact Investments

As outlined by Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), the following are considered characteristics of credible impact investments:

•  Investor intentionality: An investor must intend to make a measurable positive impact with their investment. This requires a certain level of transparency about both financial and impact goals. The investor’s intent is one of the main differentiators between traditional investments and impact investments.

•  Utilize data: Impact investments must use data and evidence to make informed decisions to achieve measurable benefits.

•  Manage impact performance: Specific financial returns and impact goals must be established and managed.

•  Contribute to the growth of the industry: The goal of impact investments is to further social, economic, or environmental causes. Impact investing toward these goals must be intentional and measured, not just guesswork.

Recommended: How to Analyze a Stock

Impact Investing vs Socially Responsible Investing

Impact investing is often associated with “socially responsible investing” (SRI). Both SRI and impact investing seek to generate positive social or environmental impact, but they differ in some ways.

SRI typically focuses on actively avoiding investments in companies involved in activities that are considered harmful to society, such as the manufacture of tobacco products or the production of weapons. SRI also typically focuses on promoting corporate policies considered socially responsible, such as environmental sustainability or gender diversity.

In contrast, impact investing focuses on making investments in companies or projects that are specifically designed to generate positive social or environmental impact.

Impact Investing vs ESG

The main difference between impact investing and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) is that impact investing is focused on investments that are expected to generate a positive social or environmental impact. In contrast, ESG considers a range of environmental, social, and governance factors in investing decisions.

Recommended: What is ESG Investing?

Why Is Impact Investing Important?

There are a few reasons why impact investing is important. First, it allows investors to put their money into companies or projects that they believe will positively impact society or the environment. This can be an excellent way for investors to make a difference while also earning a return on investment.

Second, impact investing can help attract more capital to social and environmental causes. When more people invest in companies or projects that aim to make a difference, it can help to increase the amount of money and resources available to make positive change happen.

Finally, impact investing can help create jobs and support businesses working to improve society or the environment. This can have a ripple effect, as these businesses often provide goods or services that benefit the community.

Examples of Impact Investing

Impact investing is usually done by institutional investors, large asset managers, and private foundations. Some of the largest foundations and funds focused on impact investing include:

•  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: This foundation has a $2.5 billion Strategic Investment Fund. This fund makes direct equity investments, provides low-interest loans, and utilizes other impact investing tools in promoting global health and U.S. education.

•  The Ford Foundation: The foundation has committed to invest up to $1 billion of its endowment to address social problems while seeking a risk-adjusted market rate of financial return. Its mission-related investments are focused on affordable housing, financial inclusion, and other areas in the U.S. and across the Global South.

•  The Reinvestment Fund: The Philadelphia-based nonprofit finances housing projects, access to health care, educational programs, and job initiatives. With about $1.2 billion in assets under management, it operates primarily by assisting distressed towns and communities in the U.S.

Types of Impact Investments

There are various impact investment areas, including but not limited to microfinance, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and affordable housing.

Impact investments don’t have to be equity investments either; they come in many different investment vehicles, like bonds and alternative investments.

Is Impact Investing Profitable?

Impact investing may be profitable, though it depends on several factors, including the type of impact investments and the specific goals and objectives of the investor. Nonetheless, a 2020 GIIN study noted that 88% of impact investors reported that their investments met or surpassed their financial expectations.

In general, impact investing can be a good idea if investors approach it thoughtfully and strategically. As with any investment, there is always a risk of loss, but the profit potential is considerable if the investor does their homework and carefully selects their assets.

The bottom line is that you may not have to sacrifice your financial goals to make a positive impact with your investments. In fact, it’s possible that impact investments might be better for both your pocketbook and the world.

Evaluation Methods for Impact Investors

There are many ways to measure impact investments. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a popular framework for measuring impact. The SDGs are a set of 17 goals that the United Nations adopted in 2015.

The SDGs include goals such as “no poverty,” “zero hunger,” and “good health and well-being.” Each SDG has a specific target to be achieved by the year 2030.

Impact investors often seek to invest in companies or projects that will help achieve one or more of the SDGs. For example, an impact investor might invest in a company working on a new technology to improve water quality, contributing to the SDG goal of ensuring access to water and sanitation for all.

Another popular framework for measuring impact is the Impact Management Project (IMP). The IMP is a global initiative that seeks to develop standards for measuring and managing impact.

How to Start an Impact Investment Portfolio

Though foundations and institutional investors are the heart of the impact investing world, individual investors can also make investments in companies and funds that positively impact society. It doesn’t take much to start an impact investment portfolio.

1.   Decide what type of investment you want to make, whether that’s in a stock of a company, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) with an impact investing strategy, or bonds.

2.   Next, research the different companies and funds, and find a diversified selection that fits your desires.

3.   Finally, make your investment with a brokerage and monitor your portfolio to ensure that your investments have a positive impact.

Recommended: Using Fundamental Analysis to Choose Stocks

In order to become an impact investor, it’s wise to consider both the financial potential of an investment, as well as its social, environmental, or economic impact.

Some investors have a higher risk tolerance than others, and some might be willing to take a lower profit in order to maximize the positive impact of their investments.

The Takeaway

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how to balance financial return and social or environmental impact. Impact investors must make investment decisions that are aligned with their values and objectives.

Not all impact investments are created equal. Some impact investments may have a higher financial return potential than others but may also have a lower social or environmental impact. Similarly, some impact investments may have a higher social or ecological impact but may also have a lower financial return potential. Impact investors must consider both financial return and social or environmental impact when making investment decisions.

If you’re interested in investing in individual companies or a socially conscious ETF, SoFi Invest® can help. With SoFi’s active investing and automated investing tools, you can research various companies and investment funds. Once you decide what type of impact you’d like to have and your financial goals, you can trade stocks and ETFs with as little as $5 in the SoFi app.

Learn more with SoFi Invest


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The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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What Is a FICO Score? FICO Score vs Credit Score

A credit score is one factor used in a lender’s assessment of your creditworthiness when you apply for a lending product, e.g., a loan, line of credit, or credit card. It can also be a factor in lease approval, new utilities setup, and insurance rates. You can have more than one credit score, depending on what credit scoring model a lender uses.

One type of credit scoring model is the FICO® Score, which is used in 90% of lending decisions in the U.S. Since it’s such a widely used determiner, consumers are wise to pay close attention to their own score.

What Is a FICO Score?

The FICO Score is a trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation. It was the first widely used, commercially available score of its type. FICO Scores essentially compress a person’s credit history into one algorithmically determined score.

Because FICO scores (and other credit scores like it) are based on analytics rather than human biases, the intention is to make it easier for lenders to make fair lending decisions.

What Is the FICO Score Range?

FICO’s base range is 300 to 850: The higher the score, the lower the lending risk a lender might consider you to be.

•   Exceptional: 800 to 850

•   Very Good: 740 to 799

•   Good: 670 to 739

•   Fair: 580 to 669

•   Poor: 300 to 579

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

How Is a FICO Score Calculated?

There are five main components of your base score , each having a different weight in the calculation.

•   Payment history: 35%

•   Amounts owed: 30%

•   Length of credit history: 15%

•   Credit mix: 10%

•   New credit: 10%

About two-thirds of your base FICO score depends on managing the amount of debt you have and making your monthly payments on time. Each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion® — supply information for the calculation of your credit score, so it can vary slightly even if your creditworthiness doesn’t fluctuate.

The base FICO Score range may not be the range used in all credit and lending decisions. There are also industry-specific scores , such as one specifically for auto loans (FICO® Auto Scores), others for credit card applications (FICO® Bankcard Scores), and multiple FICO scores used by mortgage lenders.

Industry-specific FICO scores range from 250 to 900, compared to the 300 to 850 range for base scores.

What Is a Good FICO Score?

Strictly referencing the base FICO Score range, a “good” score is between 670 and 739 on the overall scale of 300 to 850.

But what’s considered acceptable for credit approval might vary from lender to lender. Each lender has its own requirements for credit approval, interest rates, and loan terms, and may assign its own acceptable ranges. Lenders may also use factors other than a credit score to determine these things.

Recommended: Average Personal Loan Interest Rates & What Affects Them

Why Is a FICO Score Important? What Is a FICO Score Used For?

As mentioned above, the FICO Score is used in 90% of lending decisions in the U.S. When a consumer applies for a loan or other type of credit, the lender will look at their credit report and credit score. If there are negative entries on the credit report, which may be reflected in a decreased FICO Score, the applicant may not have a chance to explain those to the lender. Especially in mortgage lending decisions, the lender may have a firm FICO Score requirement, and even one point below the acceptable number could result in a denial.

But what if you’re not applying for credit in the traditional sense? Your FICO Score is still an important number to pay attention to because it’s used in other financial decisions.

•   Renting an apartment. Landlords and leasing agents generally run a credit check during a lease application process. They may or may not look at the applicant’s actual credit score — landlords have a lot of flexibility in how they make leasing decisions — but they do tend to look at the applicant’s credit history and how much debt they have in relation to their income, factors that go into a FICO score calculation. A few late payments here and there may not affect your ability to rent an apartment, but a high debt-to-income ratio may. If you have a lot of income going toward debt payments, the landlord may be concerned that you won’t have enough income to pay your rent.

•   Insurance. One of the industry-specific FICO Scores is formulated for the insurance industry — auto insurance and property insurance. Insurers will typically look at more than just a person’s FICO Insurance Score, but it is one factor that goes in determining qualification for insurance and at what rate. The assumption is that a person who is financially responsible will also take more care when it comes to their home and car.

•   Utilities. You may not think of a utility bill as a debt, but since utilities like gas, electric, and phone are billed in arrears, they technically are a form of debt. “Billed in arrears” means that you are billed for services you have already used. Utility companies want to make sure that you will be able to pay your monthly bill, so they may run a credit check, which may or may not include looking at your FICO Score.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Rent an Apartment in 2022?

What Affects Your FICO Score?

We briefly touched on how a FICO Score is calculated, but what goes into those different categories? Let’s look at those in more detail.

Payment history (35%)

Do you tend to pay your bills on time or do you have a history of late or missed payments? Your payment history is the most important factor in the calculation of your FICO Score. Perfection isn’t necessary, but a solid track record of regular, on-time payments is important. Lenders like to be assured that a borrower will make their payments, and a past payment history tends to be a good predictor of future payment habits.

Both installment (personal loans, mortgage loans, and student loans, for example) and revolving credit such as credit cards can affect your payment history. Since it’s such an important factor, how can you make sure it’s a positive one for you?

•   Making payments on time, every time, is the best way to make sure your payment history is a positive one. Having a regular routine for paying bills is a good way to accomplish this.

•   Automating your payments may help you make at least the minimum payment on credit accounts.

•   Checking your credit report regularly for errors or discrepancies can help catch things that might have a negative effect on your FICO Score if left uncorrected. You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Amounts owed (30%)

The amount of debt you owe in relation to the amount of debt available to you is called your credit utilization ratio, and it’s the second most important factor in the calculation of your FICO Score. Having debt isn’t at issue in this factor, but using most of your available debt is seen as relying on credit to meet your financial obligations.

Credit utilization is based on revolving debt, not installment debt. If you’re keeping your credit card balance well below your credit limit, it’s a good indicator that you’re not overspending. If you have more than one credit card, consider the percentage of available credit you’re using on each of them. If one has a higher credit utilization than the others, it might be a good idea to use that one less often if you’re trying to increase your FICO Score.

Length of credit history (15%)

The percentage of this factor may not be as high as the previous two, but its importance to lenders should not be underestimated. As with payment history, lenders tend to look at a person’s credit history as predictive of their credit future. If there is no credit history or short credit history, a lender doesn’t have much information on which to base a lending decision.

Since the amount you owe is such an important factor in your FICO Score, you might think that paying off and closing credit accounts would have a positive effect on your score. But that might not be the best strategy.

•   Revolving accounts like credit cards can be a useful tool in your financial toolbox if used responsibly. A credit card account with a low balance and good payment history that has been part of your credit report for many years can be an indicator that you are able to maintain credit in a responsible manner.

•   Installment loans like personal loans are meant to be paid off in a certain amount of time. The account will remain on your credit report for 10 years after it’s paid off. Paying off a personal loan is certainly a positive thing, but paying off a personal loan early could cause the account to stop having that positive effect earlier than it otherwise would.

Recommended: How to Build Credit Over Time

Credit mix (10%)

Having multiple types of credit can have a positive effect on your FICO Score. Being responsible with both revolving and installment credit accounts shows lenders that you can successfully manage your debts.

•   Revolving accounts are those that are open-ended, such as a credit card. You can borrow money up to your credit limit, repay it, and borrow it again. As long as you’re conforming to the terms of the credit agreement, the account is likely to have a positive effect on your credit report and, therefore, your FICO Score.

•   Installment accounts are closed-ended. There is a certain amount of credit extended to you and you receive that money in a lump sum. It’s repaid in regular installments over a set period of time. If you need additional funds, you must take out another loan. A personal loan is one example of an installment loan.

Credit mix won’t make or break your ability to qualify for a loan, but having a good mix of different types of debt indicates to lenders that you’re likely to be a good lending risk.

New credit (10%)

Though lenders like to see that a person has been extended credit in the past, too much new credit in a short amount of time can be a red flag to lenders.

When you apply for a loan or other type of credit, the lender will typically look at your credit report. This is called a credit inquiry and can be a hard inquiry or a soft inquiry. A soft inquiry may be made by a lender to pre-qualify someone for credit or by a landlord for a lease approval, for example.

During a formal application process, a lender might make a hard inquiry into your credit report, which can affect your credit score. FICO Scores take into account hard inquiries from the last 12 months in your credit score calculation, but a hard inquiry will remain on your credit report for two years.

FICO Score vs Credit Score

These two terms — FICO Scores and credit scores — are often used interchangeably. More accurately, though, is that a FICO Score is one type of credit score, the one most often used by lenders when making their decisions. There are multiple types of credit scores, each of them using analytics to create a rating that illustrates a person’s creditworthiness.

The Takeaway

Your FICO Score is affected by how you manage your personal finances, whether that’s a personal loan, line of credit, credit card, or other type of credit product. Although it’s not the only credit score lenders use, it is the one used in the majority of lending decisions in the U.S.

A SoFi Personal Loan is one financial tool that can be used to add some variety to your credit mix. If managed responsibly with regular, on-time payments, your FICO Score could be positively affected by having an installment loan like this in the mix. With fixed, competitive rates and no fees, a personal loan from SoFi could be the right choice for your unique financial situation.

Check your rate on a SoFi Personal Loan


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Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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