Credit bureaus analyze a variety of factors when determining a credit score. Credit card utilization, payment history, and derogatory marks have the highest impact. The age of the credit history has a medium impact, while the number of total accounts and hard inquiries has a low impact. While the impact of hard inquiries is low, it can still cause a score to tumble five to ten points, which can make all the difference when trying to secure credit.
If you have a less-than-ideal credit score, you're not alone. In fact, it is estimated that about 12% of the United States population has a score under 550. Unfortunately, even one financial mistake (such as filing for bankruptcy or going through a foreclosure) can have a serious impact on your credit score for years to come. As a result, you may have a hard time getting approved for loans, credit cards, and even apartments down the road.