A credit score is a three-digit number between 300 and 850 that communicates a consumer’s creditworthiness based on their credit history. Lenders use credit scores to determine the risk in lending to a consumer, which impacts how much and at what interest rate the consumer can borrow money. A higher credit score indicates higher creditworthiness while a lower credit score depicts potential risk to the lender.
The FICO credit score is most commonly used (particularly for mortgage loans), though there are other credit score models such as VantageScores. Investopedia notes that around 90% of top U.S. lenders use FICO credit scores to make credit decisions since they’re more interested in gauging how likely someone is to repay their debt; VantageScores focus more on how much debt someone has and their credit utilization.
There are three major credit bureaus that collect, analyze, and distribute information about consumer credit: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the major credit bureaus if you’d like to check your credit score. Your credit card company may offer you the chance to check your score more frequently as a perk of membership, so be sure to ask about that service if you’re curious.
Your credit score range is based on your credit history, which considers:
The exact math behind your credit score is considered to be proprietary information and varies based on what kind of credit score you’re reviewing. If you’re curious about your FICO credit score breakdown.
A credit score of 700 or higher is generally considered good, Investopedia says:
Investopedia offers the following advice to help you improve your credit score:
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