When it comes to your finances, there’s a lot of significance placed on one little piece of information: your credit score, which is calculated using the information in your credit report. This number can affect your ability to access the lifestyle you want and dictate how much you’ll pay for things over time, so it’s a good idea to know your credit score, which will usually range anywhere from 300 to 850.
But just knowing your score doesn’t give you the whole picture. You need to know how that number is viewed by your potential creditors, and whether it’s considered good, bad, or somewhere in between.
What are the Credit Score Ranges?
Right off the bat, you need to know there are many different credit scoring models available, and your credit score can change based on which model is being used. To complicate matters, your credit score may fluctuate based on which credit bureau is supplying your report (your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus may not always contain the exact same information).
Nevertheless, we can get a general sense of credit score ranges, and where your score lands, based on information provided by the credit bureaus. Here are the credit score ranges for the two most popular scoring models, the FICO® Credit Score and VantageScore®:
|Very poor credit||300 – 579|
|Fair credit||580 – 669|
|Good credit||670 – 739|
|Very good credit||740 – 799|
|Excellent credit||800 – 850|
|Very poor credit||300 – 499|
|Poor credit||500 – 600|
|Fair credit||601 – 660|
|Good credit||661 – 780|
|Excellent credit||781 – 850|
Both scoring models use the same criteria to determine your score, but they gather it in different ways. The basic criteria includes:
- Payment history
- Credit length
- Credit types
- Credit use
- Recent inquiries
How Your Credit Score Affects You
The higher your credit score is, the better chance you may have of qualifying for credit when you submit applications. People with stronger credit scores generally get more favorable terms like lower interest rates and lower monthly payments, and they may even receive offers like credit card signup bonuses and rewards. A poor credit score may even block you from renting at certain properties or working for certain employers.
If your credit score is in the good or excellent range, you can probably continue to achieve your financial goals by avoiding mistakes and continuing to have a strong credit history. If your credit score is fair or below, it’s a good idea to start working on building your credit. While the reasons your credit needs building can vary, common items in credit reports that can negatively affect your credit score are:
- A history of late payments: Even a single late payment can tank your credit score
- High credit utilization ratio: Too much of your available credit is taken up in debt
- Credit history and mix: The age of your accounts (older is better) and the types of accounts you own
- Negative public records: Bankruptcies and civil judgments
- Too many credit inquiries: Several credit applications in a short time frame can damage your score
To achieve your score goals, there are a number of things you can do:
- Pay your bills on time
- Paying down debt or increasing credit limits
- Let your accounts age and don’t close them out
- Don’t submit too many applications for credit in a short amount of time
- Dispute any inconsistencies on your credit report
Remember, knowing your credit score and the information in your credit report is a big part of the battle. Sign up for credit monitoring services to watch your credit report and credit score around the clock and alert you whenever something changes.