Improving your credit score: Amounts owed

Credit & debt, Credit cards

Green pie chart of what makes up a FICO credit score

Around 30% of your FICO® credit score is calculated based on the total amounts you owe.*

An important factor in calculating your FICO® score has to do with how much you owe on all your lines of credit.

For revolving credit lines, like a credit card, FICO® may compare how much you owe to your credit limit. A high debt-to-eligible credit ratio could  indicate higher risk. If you owe $100 on your credit card and your credit card limit is $500, you have a low debt-to-eligible credit ratio on your credit card ($100 to $500).

With an installment loan, they compare how much you owe to the original borrowed amount.  The more you have paid off, the more likely it is to improve your FICO® score.

What is a FICO® credit score and what goes into it?

A credit score is a calculation that indicates how likely you are to pay back debts. The FICO® score is the most common type, and is a three digit number (between 300 and 850), where a higher score means more likely to pay back a debt. It is calculated by a math formula that takes into account the following factors:

Learn more

Two ideas to reduce the amount of money you owe:

  1. Pay off your credit card bill in full every month. While credit cards do allow you to carry a balance, it’s extremely expensive to do so.
  2. Don’t open new lines of credit to increase your eligible credit. While this might shrink your debt-to-eligible credit ratio, it doesn’t help you pay off money that you owe. This tip comes straight from FICO®, and is a good one.

The best way to reduce the amount you owe is to avoid credit card debt.

*FICO® is solely responsible for its credit score calculation. Information contained on the FICO® website is its own content and is not managed, sponsored or endorsed by Oportun. Oportun does not require a credit score to qualify for its products nor does Oportun rely on this score.


The information in this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal, tax, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Oportun product or service to your unique circumstances. Contact your independent financial advisor for advice on your personal situation.

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