What Does Credit Mix Mean?

The types of credit you have are known as your credit mix. They can include a mix of accounts from credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company and mortgage loans.

Credit mix determines 10% of a FICO Score

So, what does it mean to you and your FICO Score? Creditors assess the risk of lending money through a variety of factors, one of them being your ability to successfully manage different types of credit. FICO not only looks at the mix of credit you have but also at the payment history of these credit types. For instance, if you have a great mix of installment and revolving loans, yet your payment history is bad, your FICO Score will reflect that negative payment history, which represents 35% of your FICO Score.

For creditors, it stands to reason that the better you manage different loans and lines of credit, the lower their risk when lending you money.

Again, since credit mix is only 10% of your FICO Score, it most likely won't determine whether or not you obtain credit from lenders. However, if you're striving to bring your FICO Score to the highest level it can be, your credit mix can play a part.

Figuring out your credit mix

Okay, so a good credit mix can help your credit score. Does that mean you should start applying for all the types of credit lines you don't currently have? No.

First and foremost, two things happen when you apply for multiple new credit lines within a short period of time:

  1. Creditors check your credit (a "hard inquiry") which typically lowers your credit score and remains on your credit report for two years. (Note: FICO Scores only consider inquiries made during the 12 months prior to the time the Score is calculated.)
  2. If a creditor sees you've opened an inordinate amount of new accounts within a small time frame, it could indicate to them that you're experiencing financial distress, whether true or not. The result? A likely denial of the loan.

Therefore, if you want to add something to your credit mix that's currently missing, balance the risk versus the reward. Is it worth a drop in your score to apply for a small loan to show creditors you can manage payments successfully? With credit mix being such a small percentage of your credit score, the answer is, "probably not." However, in the end, the final decision is yours.

Types of credit accounts

Do you have experience with both revolving credit and installment type accounts, or has your credit experience been limited to only one type?

Revolving accounts

Revolving accounts are those that provide you with credit that allows more flexibility regarding the amount paid monthly (subject to any minimum payments required, and payment due dates, etc.). Some of these include:

  • Credit Cards
  • Retail Store Cards
  • Gas Station Cards
  • HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)

Installment accounts

These types of accounts usually require a fixed payment each month until the balance is paid down in full. A few examples of these are:

  • Mortgage
  • Auto Loan
  • Student Loan

Now that you know more about credit mix, check out the last FICO Score factor, new credit. See how new credit will affect your score.