Your credit score is incredibly important. In fact, this number is so influential on various financial aspects of life that it can determine your eligibility to be approved for credit cards, car loans, home mortgages, apartment rentals, and even certain jobs. Knowing what your credit score is, and what range it falls under, is important so you can decide what loans you can to apply for, and if necessary, if steps need to be taken to improve your score.
So what constitutes a good credit score?
The Credit Score Range Scale
The most common credit score used by lenders and other business entities is the FICO score, which ranges from 300 to 850. The bigger the number, the better. To create credit scores, FICO uses information from one of the three major credit bureau agencies - Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Knowing this range is important because it will help you understand where your specific number fits in.
As far as lenders are concerned, the lower a consumer's number on this scale, the higher the risk. Lenders will often deny a loan application for those with a lower credit score because of this risk. If they do approve a loan application, they'll make consumers pay for such risk by means of a much higher interest rate.
Understand Your Credit Score
Within the credit score range are different categories, ranging from bad to excellent. Here is how credit score ranges are broken down:
Bad credit: 630 or Lower
Lenders generally consider a credit score of 630 or lower as bad credit. A number of past activities could have landed you in this category, including a string of late or missed credit card payments, maxed out credit cards, or even bankruptcy. Younger people who have no credit history will probably find themselves in this category until they have had time to develop their credit. If you're in this bracket, you'll be faced with higher interest rates and fees, and your selection of credit cards will be restricted.
Fair Credit: 630-689
This is considered an average score. Lingering within this range is most likely the result of having too much "bad" debt, such as high credit card debt that's grazing the limit. Within this bracket, lenders will have a harder time trusting you with their loan.
Good Credit: 690-719
Having a credit score within this range will afford you more choices when it comes to credit cards, an easier time getting approved for various loans, and being charged much lower interest rates on such loans.
Excellent Credit: 720-850
Consider your credit score excellent if your number falls within this bracket. You'll be able to take advantage of all the fringe benefits that come with credit cards, and will almost certainly be approved for loans at the lowest interest rates possible.
What's Your Credit Score?
Federal law allows consumers to check their credit score for free once every 12 months. But if you want to check more often than this, a fee is typically charged. Luckily, there are other avenues to take to check your credit score.
Mint has recently launched an online tool that allows you to check your credit score for free without the need for a credit card. Here you'll be able to learn the different components that affect your score, and how you can improve it.
You'll be able to see your score with your other accounts to give you a complete picture of your finances. Knowing what your credit score is can help determine if you need to improve it to help you get the things you need or want. Visit Mint.com to find out more about how you can access your credit score - for free.
Lisa Simonelli Rennie is a freelance web content creator who enjoys writing on all sorts of topics, including personal finance, investing in stocks, mortgages, real estate investments, and anything else to do with the world of economics.