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Before they decide on the terms of your loan (which they base on their risk), lenders need to discover two things about you: your ability to pay back the loan, and if you will pay it back. To figure out your ability to repay, lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio. To assess your willingness to repay, they use your credit score.
The most commonly used credit scores are called FICO scores, which were developed by Fair Isaac & Company, Inc. Your FICO score ranges from 350 (high risk) to 850 (low risk). We've written a lot more about FICO here.
Your credit score comes from your repayment history. They don't consider income or personal characteristics. Fair Isaac invented FICO specifically to exclude demographic factors. "Profiling" was as bad a word when these scores were first invented as it is now. Credit scoring was developed to assess a borrower's willingness to repay the loan without considering other personal factors.
Your current debt level, past late payments, length of your credit history, and a few other factors are considered. Your score considers both positive and negative items in your credit report. Late payments count against you, but a record of paying on time will improve it.
Your report should have at least one account which has been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been updated in the past six months for you to get a credit score. This history ensures that there is sufficient information in your report to build a score. Some people don't have a long enough credit history to get a credit score. They may need to spend some time building up a credit history before they apply for a loan.