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What is a good credit score?

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
woman checking her credit

Credit scores range from 300 to 850 with 850 being “perfect.” Each creditor has its own benchmarks for a good or excellent score, but in general, an excellent credit score is any number above 750, while a good credit score is 700 to 749.

credit score ranges

Companies use credit scores to determine the likelihood that a borrower will repay a loan, with higher credit scores suggesting more “creditworthy” customers. Credit scores are evaluated distinctly in various situations, including borrowing for a car, a home or a credit card. In general, a home buyer will need a higher credit score than someone interested in receiving a credit card. Typically, those with lower credit scores can expect to receive higher interest rates. It’s important to check your credit score by requesting your credit reports at least once a year.

VantageScore vs. FICO score

The VantageScore and FICO Score are two methods of ranking a borrower’s creditworthiness. The scores are used, separately or together, to determine your credit and evaluate lending risk.

All credit scores analyze the same information from your credit report. The difference between a FICO score and a VantageScore comes from the way that the companies use the information, and how much weight they put on different factors, like payment history or the age of your accounts, for example.

What is a Good FICO Score?

You have a FICO score at each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. A score above 670 is considered a good credit score, and a score over 800 is considered excellent.

FICO score ranges

RatingCredit score
Excellent credit800-850
Very good credit740-799
Good credit670-739
Fair credit580-669
Bad credit300-579

What is a FICO score used for?

The FICO Score, created by the Fair Isaac Corporation, is the most widely accepted type of credit score. Many lenders rely on the FICO credit score, including mortgage lenders. Generally, the higher your FICO score, the lower your interest rate will be.

According to Fair Isaac, 90% of top lenders use FICO scores to make lending decisions. This includes credit card lenders, auto loan lenders and other financial institutions.

What is a good VantageScore?

The most recent VantageScore model uses the same range as your FICO score, 300 to 850. A score of about 650 is considered good, and anything above 750 is excellent.

VantageScore ranges

RatingCredit score
Excellent credit750-850
Very good credit700-749
Good credit650-699
Fair credit550-649
Bad credit300-549

What is a VantageScore used for?

The VantageScore was developed in 2006 by the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Approximately 10 percent of lenders use the VantageScore.

VantageScores are most widely used by credit card issuers, but may also be used by other financial institutions including banks, personal and installment loan companies and auto lenders. While less widely adopted by other industries, certain non-financial institutions may also use your VantageScore score including tenant screening and government entities, though the use of a FICO score is generally more common.

What affects your credit score?

The information that affects your credit score varies depending on which model is being used. Factors that may affect your credit score include:

  • Type, number and age of credit accounts
  • Total debt
  • New credit accounts opened
  • Payment history, including late payments
  • Number of inquiries on your credit
  • Credit utilization ratio (lenders like to see around 35 percent)

Factors that affect your FICO and VantageScore credit scores differ slightly depending on the model used. While both models may be used together to determine your credit history, each considers certain factors as carrying more weight than others.

What affects your FICO score?

Your FICO score puts the most consideration on your payment history and the total amount of debt you have and the least on new lines of credit and your account types (or “credit mix”). The length of your credit history also plays a factor.

FICO lays out its methodology with the following formula:

  • 35% payment history
  • 30% amounts owed
  • 15% length of credit history
  • 10% new credit
  • 10% credit mix

What affects your VantageScore?

Your VantageScore credit score heavily considers your payment history, followed by your how long you’ve had your accounts and your credit mix. Having a good combination of account types, like a mortgage loan, auto loan or credit cards shows diversity in your credit usage and can positively impact your score. On the flip side, recent inquiries on your credit have less influence on your overall VantageScore credit score.

One of the most significant differences between how the VantageScore and FICO scores differ is how influential available credit is on your score. The VantageScore ranks “available credit” as one of the least influential factors, while FICO deems it one of the most important, making up as much as 30% of your FICO score.
 

Want to check your credit score?

Take our two minute quiz to find the right credit report site for you.

Bottom line: Does credit score matter?

Your credit score is a major factor in lending decisions. If you plan to make large purchases that require credit, like financing a new car or obtaining a mortgage, your credit score will be important. A good credit score helps to ensure you’ll not only be approved for a loan but that you'll also get optimal terms and conditions, like lower interest rates. Your credit score shouldn’t be a mystery, and it won’t hurt your score to review your credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report each year with AnnualCreditReport.com.

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Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.