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VantageScore and FICO are two of the main credit scoring models, but they weigh the various parts of your credit report differently. Here are the different credit score ranges — and more information on how your score is calculated.
In this post:
- Credit score ranges
- Different models could mean different credit score ranges
- How to check your credit score
- How your score impacts future credit
Credit score ranges
Different models could mean different credit score ranges
Since different credit scoring models weigh factors differently, you could see your score fluctuate differently depending on which scoring model you’re looking at. In one model you might have excellent credit but in another, you might only be considered good.
FICO, for example, says payment history is 35% of your total score. It’s the most important part and one missed payment can cause your credit score to take a big hit.
VantageScore, however, doesn’t weigh payment history as high. Your total credit usage, like balance and available credit, is the most important factor in calculating your VantageScore.
With credit score ranges, you may not even fit into “good” or “poor.” In fact, you could be better than good. For the most part, credit score ranges include:
- Poor (less than 640): Poor or bad credit gives you little chance of qualifying for any type of credit, including a credit card or loan. This can hurt your chances of borrowing money.
- Fair (640 to 699): Fair credit means there are some highlights to your score and lenders will take notice. While you may qualify for a loan or credit card, you’d likely end up paying a higher interest rate due to your low score. You might also need to enlist the help of a cosigner to get lower interest rates.
- Good (700 to 749): Having good credit not only allows you to qualify for a loan but gives you a chance to get a lower interest rate than those with only a fair score. You may also see more choices or a variety of available credit by having a good score.
- Excellent (750 and above): Having excellent credit shows lenders, issuers and credit bureaus that you’re very responsible with money. You’ll qualify for the vast majority of loan and credit card options available, as well as securing the lowest interest rate offered. A lower interest rate means less you have to pay on top of the amount you borrowed.
How to check your credit score
The good news is that you don’t have to pay to access your credit score. Many places offer it for free, including:
- Banks and credit issuers: A perk of having an account at your bank (or a credit card) means you have access to your credit score without paying for it. It’s typically updated weekly or monthly, depending on the institution.
- Credit bureaus: Experian not only allows you to get your score for free, but they also give you access to your Experian credit report, too.
- Apps: Some independent apps, like Mint, give you the chance to track your credit score either on a weekly or monthly basis. Different accounts are reported at different times, which can cause your score to fluctuate from week to week or even month to month.
No matter how you check your score, you should try to do it on a regular basis. Doing this can help you keep track of your progress. For example, if you’re trying to pay down debt or pay off a credit card, you can see how on-time payments will cause your FICO score to go up. You’ll also see how lowering your balance will cause your VantageScore to rise.
Find Out: How to Improve Your Credit Score
How your score impacts future credit
Even with a lower credit score, you can still qualify for many different loans and credit cards. However, keep in mind that typically means you’ll be paying higher interest rates. Here are a few ways your score can impact your future credit:
- Credit cards: If you don’t have stellar credit, a credit card (and on-time payments) could help you build it up. But if your credit is low, that could mean higher rates.
- Mortgages: The higher your score, the more likely you’ll be able to take out a home loan for the full amount you’d like. If you have a poor or fair score, you might not be able to take out a mortgage at all.
- Auto loans: Having bad credit means you might not qualify for an auto loan and if you do, it could come with a higher interest rate.
- Personal loans: Your credit score could be the determining factor between qualifying and getting rejected for a personal loan.
- Student loans: If you need to take out a private student loan, you’ll need a decent credit score to qualify (or a creditworthy cosigner). Federal loans on the other hand, don’t require a credit check.
- Student loan refinancing: When you refinance a loan, having a high credit score means getting the lowest interest rate available. While you may qualify for refinancing with a less-than-stellar score, you may end up paying more in interest. Think about getting a cosigner who has better credit to keep your interest rate lower.
If you don’t have much credit but want to start proving you can responsibly handle money, there are ways you can get other types of payments reported to credit bureaus. Experian Boost allows you to add your phone and utility bills to your credit report. Finding other ways to increase your credit score by paying bills on time gives you the chance to improve it without taking on debt.