A good credit score is what each of us aspires to. After all, a credit score is one of the important determining factors when it comes to borrowing money – and getting a low rate when you do.
A credit score is a three-digit number calculated from your data-rich credit report and is one factor used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness for a mortgage or loan. Your score can affect whether or not you are approved as well as what interest rate you are charged. A good credit score is generally considered to be 720 or higher. Lenders, however, can each have different standards for what they consider to be a good credit score, so it‘s important to keep building your score to receive the most favorable interest rates and highest rates of credit approval.
How Do WE Rate?
Most credit scores – including the FICO score and the latest version of the VantageScore – operate within the range of 301 to 850. Within that range, there are different categories, from very bad to excellent.
- Excellent Credit: 800+
- Very Good Credit: 750-800
- Good Credit: 700-750
- Fair Credit: 650-700
- Bad Credit: 600-650
- Very Bad Credit: below 500
UNDERSTANDING CREDIT SCORES
Your credit score is a three-digit number that represents the state of your credit. If you know your score, you can get a sense of how lenders, insurance agencies, and interested employers view your credit:
EXCELLENT CREDIT: CREDIT SCORE ABOVE 800
If your credit score is above 800, you have an exceptionally long credit history that is unmarred by things such as late payments, collections accounts, liens, judgments, or bankruptcies. Not only do you have multiple established lines of credit, but you have or have had experience with several different types of credit, including installment loans and revolving lines of credit. You generally have a stable work history, usually with one company.
Simply stated, you are an A+ borrower in the eyes of all lenders big and small, and will have no trouble securing a loan of your choosing. Be prepared to receive the very best interest rates, repayment terms, and lowest fees available. Insurance companies love people like you because they’re confident that you’ll pay your premiums on time and pose virtually no risk of insurance fraud. Plus, prospective employers love you because you have proven that personal and financial responsibility are of the utmost importance to you.
VERY GOOD CREDIT: CREDIT SCORES BETWEEN 750 AND 800
If your credit score is between 750 and 800, you have a long and distinguished credit history that shows a responsible payment history and the ability to handle multiple types of credit responsibly. As a matter of fact, for the most part, you are regarded in the same standard as borrowers with excellent credit history.
In the eyes of lenders, insurance companies, and employers, you’re just as good as anyone with excellent credit and, for the most part, will receive the same red carpet treatment. Ultimately, having very good credit will qualify you for some of the best deals in town.
GOOD CREDIT: CREDIT SCORES BETWEEN 700 AND 750
Having good credit means that you have built a solid credit history by working hard to keep your accounts in good standing – however, there may be a late payment or two somewhere in your past. Things happen sometimes, but they are nothing you can’t handle. You might have had a collections account reported, but you’ve paid it. And you know you have some extra credit card debt, but you’ve made strides to get it under control.
Generally, lenders will have no issues loaning money to someone like you. Your good credit score will land you competitive interest rates and low origination fees, though certainly not as good as you could have gotten with a few more points on your score. You’ll also have no trouble getting an insurance policy for just about any need, but you should expect your premiums to be somewhat higher than for those with excellent or even very good credit.
Furthermore, your good credit should not have any negative effect on your ability to get hired.
FAIR CREDIT: CREDIT SCORES BETWEEN 650 AND 700
Having fair credit means that you’ve hit a few speed bumps in the past. Late payments, collections accounts, and maybe even an aged public record dot your credit history. Or, perhaps you simply have too much debt.
Regardless of the reason for the less-than-stellar score, you’ll have a harder time finding a lender willing to service a loan, especially if the low credit score is a result of slow payments. You’ll represent a higher risk of default to a lender and may therefore be required to secure the loan with a down payment or with tangible personal property (otherwise known as “collateral”) before a loan offer will be extended.
Furthermore, unsecured revolving credit will be very difficult to come by. Insurance companies will tend to price insurance policies up for people in your credit category due to the potential for nonpayment of premiums or the higher-than-average risk for committing insurance fraud. Also, some jobs may not be available to applicants with fair credit, such as jobs in the financial sector.
Having fair credit means that you have some work to do in order to get yourself back into good financial shape. It is imperative to take steps now to prevent any additional damage to your credit report and get back on the road to good financial health. By reducing credit card debt, ensuring that you get your bills paid on time every month, and paying off any open collections, your credit score will move enough during the next three to six months to get you back into the realm of good credit rating.
BAD CREDIT: CREDIT SCORES BETWEEN 600 AND 650
Having bad credit is not a pleasant experience. You’ve had multiple credit issues in the past, most likely involving payment history on one or more accounts. You’ve also most likely had an account or two in collections, and could have possibly had a bankruptcy filing.
It’s going to be extremely difficult to find any lenders willing to lend to you without a significant down payment or collateral to secure the loan against default. Insurance agencies will still underwrite insurance policies for you, but the products will be limited and they are going to cost significantly more than the same products for customers with better scores. You may also have higher car insurance costs.
Some employers – particularly those in the financial, defense, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries – will not hire you if you haven’t built or maintained solid credit. They may believe you pose an above-average risk of employee theft or fraud, which could even make it difficult to change positions or get a promotion with your current employer.
Having bad credit means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get real about your current financial situation. Though your current position may be of no fault of your own – thanks to a job loss, illness, or other unforeseen circumstance – it’s your responsibility to take the necessary steps to reverse the course you are on. Take a good hard look at where you are in your life and take the necessary steps to reverse the trends that led to your bad score.
VERY BAD CREDIT: CREDIT SCORES BELOW 600
If you have very bad credit, you are more than likely delinquent on more than one account. You have active collections accounts, and probably have at least one judgment, repossession, or bankruptcy in your file. If you have credit cards, they are maxed out or shut off for nonpayment.
This is as bad as it gets, as this will have many negative effects on your life. Lenders, with the exception of those who specialize in lending to borrowers with bad credit, will not approve you for any loan product, even if you can provide a sizable down payment or collateral, and insurance agencies will likely refuse you based on the risks you pose. Often, employers that check your credit will not hire you, whether there is another viable candidate or not.
Bad credit, no matter how bad it is, is still a temporary condition. Late payments will vanish from your records after 7 years, and public records are purged after 10.
The Credit Score Range Scale
There are many different credit scores available to lenders, and they each develop their own credit score range. Why is that important? Because if you get your credit score, you need to know the credit score range you are looking at so you understand where your number fits in.
The Credit Score Range Using Various Scoring Models:
- FICO Score range: 300-850
- VantageScore 3.0 range: 300–850
- VantageScore scale (versions 1.0 and 2.0): 501–990
- PLUS Score: 330-830
- TransRisk Score: 100-900
- Equifax Credit Score: 280–850
With all of the scores listed above, the higher the number the lower the risk. That means consumers with higher scores are more likely to get approved for credit, and to get the best interest rates when they do. And they are more likely to get discounts on insurance. What is considered a “high” score depends on what type of score is being used.
If your FICO score is 840, for example, you’re just 10 points shy of the highest score possible and your credit is “superprime.” But if you have an 840 VantageScore (using version 2.0), it’s not as spectacular because you’re 150 points away from the highest possible score.
What’s Your Score?
Don’t assume your score is good (or isn’t) just because you have always paid your bills on time (or haven’t.) The only way to know whether you have a good credit score is to check. You can get your credit score free once a month at Credit.com. This is a truly free credit score – no payment information is requested. In addition to the number, you’ll see a breakdown of the factors that affect your score and get recommendations for making your credit as strong as possible.
What Can I Get With A Good Credit Score?
A good credit score can also get you a lower interest rate when you borrow. That means you will pay less over time.
For example, if you’re buying a $300,000 house with a 30 year fixed mortgage, and you have good credit, then you could end up paying more than $90,000 less for that house over the life of the loan than if you had bad credit.
So, in the end, it really pays to understand your credit scores and to make them as strong as possible.
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