What are the ingredients in your FICO score?

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By now, most WalletPop readers are aware of how important a good credit score is. But you're not alone if you're confused about what makes up that score and how much each of those components matter. We talked to Barry Paperno, consumer operations manager for FICO, the organization to which the three credit bureaus report, to get the skinny on credit scores.

The Web site MyFICO.com has a pie chart illustrating the five aspects of a FICO score and how much weight each carries. Payment history is the biggest slice of that pie, accounting for 35% of the overall score. Payment history is not how long you've had credit or owned credit cards; rather, it's an evaluation of how well you pay those bills. "For late payments, it looks at three areas: recency, severity and frequency," Paperno says. In other words: How recently did you pay a bill late? How late was it? And how often do you pay late?