How important is your credit score? If you want to borrow money, it can mean the difference between an affordable option and no option at all. If you buy a house or a car, or your child is applying for a credit card for the first time, chances are a lender will request a credit score before making a decision.
One of the most well-known credit scorers is FICO® (Fair Isaac Corporation). It uses a range of 300 to 850 to score credit risk:
What your credit score means
A credit score of 800 or more is considered exceptional. A score of 740 to 799 is considered very good. A score of 670 to 739 is considered good. A score of 580 to 669 is considered fair. A score below 580 is considered poor.
Don't assume that just because your score falls in a certain range, a lender won’t talk to you. Everyone’s rules are different: One lender may approve only customers with the highest numbers, while another may offer a lower interest rate depending on your score.
Three tips for tip-top scores
According to FICO,® you can do three things right now to help your credit score:
- Check your credit report
The three credit reporting companies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – are required to give you a free copy of your credit report every 12 months, but you must request it. To learn more, visit annualcreditreport.com. If you find inaccuracies, make sure to correct this information.
- Set up payment reminders
Late payments can have a large impact on your credit score. Payment reminders or automatic payments can help you stay on track.
- Reduce the amount of debt you owe
It helps to keep your balances as low as possible on your credit cards. Pay off debt rather than moving it from one card to another.