A credit score is a number ranging from 300 to 850 that depicts your creditworthiness. A credit score is based on the entire credit history of an individual.
The factors that affect your score include: number of accounts, total levels of debt, repayment history, and more.
A lender will use your score to forecast how you’ll manage your finances in the future and it helps them make a decision on if they want to lend to you or not. The three major credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These three agencies handle all of your credit information and report to various entities if they request your data.
Types of Credit Scores
There are two main scoring models and a few lesser known ones that are industry or niche specifics. The two most known credit scores are the FICO score and the VantageScore. These two scores use information from the three main reporting agencies to create your score.
FICO Credit Scores
FICO, or Fair Isaac Corporation, is the most popular scoring model and is used in nearly everything. A FICO score can be industry-specific based on the type of loan or credit line a person is applying for.
There are different FICO score versions and the latest is called “FICO Score 9”. This latest version gives less weight to medical debts compared to non-medical debts and adjusts how they calculate collections into the overall score. The difference in FICO Score 9 and others is that it now takes in non-standard methods of “building credit”, like having your landlord report rent payments to the bureaus.
Understanding why there are different types of scores is crucial in making sure you’re staying on top of your finances.
A FICO score can range from 300 to 800.
The key factors affecting your FICO score: Payment History, Total Debt, Length of Credit History
VantageScore Credit Scores
VantageScore was created as a direct competitor to the FICO score. Your FICO score is created by a 3rd party entity whereas your VantageScore was created by the three reporting bureaus and their desire to put their spin on lenders should view credit.
Initially, the VantageScore was a lot more lenient than the FICO scoring model. It’s used often for people who don’t have a credit score or are in the process of building credit. This is due to the fact that FICO takes up to 6 months to even have a score available and in many cases it takes longer. Your VantageScore can be adjusted to compare your financial liability for certain debt types. For example, a lender can remove medical debt from consideration if they desire.
A VantageScore can range from 300 to 800.
The biggest advantage to your VantageScore is that it doesn’t take into account any past collections which is very useful for someone who has had a rocky past and is trying to repair their credit.
The key factors affecting your VantageScore score: Payment History, Age & Type of Credit, Debt to Credit Ratio
Credit Score Ranges
The standard credit score range is from 300 to 850.
A majority of the United States falls in the 600 and 750 range with 67% of Americans having a good credit score. The higher the score the better your decision making is with your finances and the likelier a lender is willing to give you credit or money.
A good credit score is generally anything above 700 on either scale. A score of 800 in the same range is considered to be excellent.
FICO Range Breakdowns
- 300 – 579 or Very Poor
- Around 16% of Americans are in this range. Applicants will most likely be required to pay a free or deposit and many applicants won’t be approved for credit.
- 580 – 669 or Fair
- Around 17% of Americans are in this range. Applicants will be considered as subprime borrowers and will most likely not get favorable rates.
- 670 – 739 or Good
- Around 21% of Americans are in this range. Applicants will more than likely be approved for all requests and typically have a very slim chance of going delinquent.
- 740 – 799 or Very Good
- Around 25% of Americans are in this range. Applicants will receive better than average rates.
- 800 – 850 or Exceptional
- Around 21% of Americans are in this range. Applicants will receive the best rates and limits.
VantageScore Range Breakdowns
- 300 – 499 or Very Poor
- Around 5% of Americans are in this range. Applicants will not likely be approved for credit.
- 500 – 600 or Poor
- Around 21% of Americans are in this range. Applicants may be approved for some credit but will get very unfavorable rates.
- 601 – 660 or Fair
- Around 13% of Americans are in this range. Applicants may be approved for credit but won’t get competitive rates.
- 661 – 780 or Good
- Around 38% of Americans are in this range. Applicants are likely to be approved for credit at competitive rates.
- 781 – 850 or Excellent
- Around 23% of Americans are in this range. Applicants are likely to receive the best rates and most favorable terms.
Factors Affecting Credit Scores
There are seven key factors that affect your credit score calculation. The key is to balance each factor to make sure you’re getting the highest score possible.
These factors are:
- Payment History
- Credit Utilization
- Type, Number and Age of Accounts
- Total Debt
- Public Records (Repossession, Bankruptcy, etc.)
- New Credit Inquiries
- New Credit Accounts
Each scoring model puts more weight into various categories but for the most part staying on top of your finances will reap good rewards. You should strive to keep your debt utilization under 30%, pay all of your bills on time, have a nice mix of accounts, keep the debt down for unnecessary debts, steer clear of public records, and limit how often you add accounts or inquiries to your report.
A lot of people think there are other factors, like age, that affect your credit score and that’s a common misconception.
The most common factors people think affect your score but they do not:
- Race, Color, Religion, Origin, etc.
- Salary, Occupation, Title
- Location (Where You Live)
- Soft Inquiries
If you check your own score or if you use a service to check or monitor your score or report you will not hurt your credit. You can access your free credit report once per year and after that you have to connect with one of the service providers.
How Fast Do Scores Update?
A credit score is calculated based on the information available at that time. If new information is found, such as a payoff, your score will be adjusted accordingly. Most of the scores are calculated monthly but sometimes they go in 3-month intervals based on the consumers financial background.