What is a Credit Mix and How Does it Affect Credit Scores?

Reading time: 2 minutes

Highlights:

  • A credit mix refers to the different types of credit accounts you have
  • The impact of a credit mix on your credit scores varies, depending on the credit scoring model used
  • Lenders and creditors generally want to know how you have managed different types of accounts over time

Whether you’ve already established a credit history or you’re wondering how to get started building one, you may not know what a “credit mix” means – or how it may affect your credit scores.

Simply put, a credit mix refers to the types of different credit accounts you have – mortgages, loans, credit cards, etc. It’s one factor generally considered when calculating your credit scores, although the weight it’s given may vary depending on the credit scoring model (ways of calculating credit scores) used. In general, lenders and creditors like to see that you’ve been able to manage different types of credit accounts responsibly over time.

Generally, there are four different types of accounts you may find on your Equifax credit report:

Installment loans

An installment loan is a loan that’s paid back, generally with interest, through regular payments over a period of time, and the payment amount typically stays the same. When the loan is repaid, the money cannot be re-used, as it would be with a revolving account. An example of an installment loan would be a vehicle loan.

Revolving debt  

With a revolving debt, you borrow money up to a certain amount (your credit limit) and pay it back – or pay a minimum payment, generally with interest, while carrying a balance. Once that amount has been paid back, it is then available to be borrowed again. An example of revolving debt would be credit cards or lines of credit.

Mortgage

A mortgage account is a type of installment loan used for purchasing real estate. If the lender or creditor reports to one or both of the nationwide credit bureaus, your mortgage account typically shows up on credit reports provided by that bureau or bureaus. Mortgage accounts may differ from other types of installment loans, as the interest rate can be fixed or variable. Fixed interest rates stay the same, while variable interest rates may change.

Open accounts

These types of accounts often involve “service credit,” where a service is provided before payment, with the balance due at the end of the payment period. An example of these would be monthly contract-based mobile phone plans. 

Successfully maintaining a diverse mix of credit may affect your credit scores positively. That doesn’t mean that you should open credit accounts you don’t need: instead, you might want to think twice about closing a paid-off account, since doing so might have a negative impact on your credit scores for several reasons. For instance, closing the account may affect your debt to credit ratio, or the amount of credit you're using compared to the total amount available to you. Keeping the account open and using it occasionally may help maintain a healthy credit mix.

Keep in mind that your credit mix is generally one of the smaller factors in credit score calculations. Other factors that may be used to calculate your credit scores include your payment history on your accounts; the length of your credit history; your debt to credit ratio, as mentioned above; and how much you owe on your credit accounts. 

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