Your credit score is a crucial component of your life that impacts everything from your ability to borrow money or increase your credit limits to the interest rates you’ll pay for borrowed funds. It can determine whether or not you’ll get the apartment you want and your car insurance rates. A three-digit score impacts many facets of your life.
So what exactly is a credit score, what are the ranges of scores, and how do those ranges impact you? Let’s find out.
- Your credit score is a three-digit number that significantly impacts your life; check it regularly.
- Score ranges vary based on the scoring company and mean different things to different lenders.
- Knowing what credit range you’re currently in will help you focus on improving your credit.
- Free resources exist to help you stay on top of your credit score and keep working for a higher number.
How Does a Credit Score Work?
A credit score is comprised of a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 850, with the high end of the scale considered a borrower that is a good risk for lenders. Those with very high scores will get the best interest rates as lenders see them as the most likely to repay the borrowed money.
In order to calculate your credit score, information regarding your credit accounts is gathered by the credit bureaus and compiled into a credit report that details payment histories, credit mix, balances, and available credit. Equifax, Experian, and Transunion are the three largest credit bureaus used by lenders and others to calculate your score.
Two major companies, FICO and VantageScore, calculate your credit score, and they have multiple credit score models, meaning you may have many different scores out there at any given time. One lender might use a particular score model, whereas another lender uses a different model that better applies to their needs.
Credit Score Ranges
While lenders have their own standards for the scores they accept and how they treat them, there are some general guidelines for what constitutes an excellent, good, fair, or bad score.
Generally, the score ranges as ranked by lenders are:
- 720 and above: Superprime (excellent)
- 660 to 719: Prime (good)
- 620 to 659: Near prime (fair)
- 580 to 619: Subprime (poor)
- 300 to 579: Deep subprime (very poor)
These are general ranges, but VantageScore and FICO define their score ranges.
FICO Score Ranges
FICO score ranges are as follows:
- 800 and above: Exceptional
- 740 to 799: Very good
- 670 to 739: Good
- 580 to 669: Fair
- 579 and lower: Poor
VantageScore ranges break down to:
- 781 to 850: Superprime
- 661 to 780: Prime
- 601 to 660: Near prime
- 300 to 600: Subprime
Credit Score Factors
Multiple factors are considered when calculating a credit score, each weighted by its importance to the scorer. Additionally, those factors are weighted differently by the scoring companies.
Generally, your score reflects your payment history, the amounts you owe, the length of your credit history, new credit, and your credit mix (revolving and installment credit).
- Payment history: 35%
- Amounts owed: 30%
- Length of credit history: 15%
- New credit: 10%
- Credit mix: 10%
VantageScore weighs the factors that go into your score quite differently in its latest model:
- Payment history: 41%
- Depth of credit (length of credit history and account types): 20%
- Credit utilization (how much you use and how much credit is available): 20%
- Recent credit: 11%
- Balances: 6%
- Available credit: 2%
Regardless of the score being FICO or VantageScore, paying your debts on time, keeping your revolving credit utilization low, and continuing to develop a positive credit history will be the most significant contributors to your credit score. So long as you keep paying on time and keep balances low (generally below 30% but more than 0%), you’ll be progressing towards an increasing score.
What Is a Good Credit Score Range?
While getting over 800 is extremely difficult, a 700-plus score is achievable if you keep your balances down at a manageable level and always make your payments on time. Being responsible with your credit use will ensure you continue to be judged to be a low-risk to lend to.
How Do I Check or Monitor My Credit Score?
Financial literacy is essential and regularly checking your credit score and credit reports keeps you in the know and working toward an ever-better score. While it was once challenging to access your credit score, many ways now cost you nothing and are easy to use.
The easiest way to access your credit score and monitor your progress is through your bank or credit card provider. Most banks now offer free credit score monitoring, and access to your credit score through your credit card provider has become a standard perk. Some credit card companies have started offering free credit score checks to anyone without the need to be a cardholder. They hope your increasing score will eventually turn you into one of their cardholders.
It’s important to note that checking your credit score is considered a “soft inquiry,” not a hard inquiry from a lender checking your score before lending you money or opening a new revolving credit account. As a soft inquiry, your credit will not be negatively affected.
In addition to monitoring your credit score, knowing what is determining that score is essential. Every year, you can request a credit report from all three credit bureaus from annualcreditreport.com. If your score isn’t where you want it to be, you’ll gain insight into what is impacting it and ensure there aren’t errors on your credit report that negatively affect it.
The Bottom Line
A little three-digit number makes a tremendous impact on your life. Knowing that number and which credit range you’re in is a must and needs to be an ongoing activity. By being aware of your current score, you’ll find you’re continually working to improve it and increase your desirability to lenders. Take advantage of the free resources for checking your score and credit history, and continue to utilize them regularly. As you see those three digits going up and up, pat yourself on the back for your excellent work.