What Is a Good Credit Score?

A good credit score is about 690 or higher on the 300-850 scale commonly used by FICO and VantageScore.

Bev O'SheaSeptember 4, 2020
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credit score ranges

Generally speaking, scores between 690 and 719 are considered good credit. Scores above 720 are considered excellent, while scores between 630 and 689 are considered fair. Scores below 630 fall into the bad credit range.

FICO, the most widely known credit scoring system, and its competitor VantageScore both use a 300-850 range. They both weigh on-time payments as the most-important factor affecting your score, followed by how much of your credit limits you're using, which is called credit utilization.

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What is a good FICO score?

FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, a company that developed the credit scoring system using data from the three major credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. FICO scores are widely used by lenders to check your creditworthiness.

A good FICO score lies between 670 and 739, according to FICO's website. FICO says scores in this range are near or slightly above the average of U.S. consumers and lenders view them favorably. FICO says scores between 580 and 669 are considered "fair" and those between 740 and 799 are considered "very good." Anything above 800 is considered "exceptional."

Readers also ask

If your score is below about 700, prepare for questions about negative items on your credit record. People with major blemishes on their credit are routinely approved for car loans, but you may not qualify for a low rate. Read about what rates to expect with your score.

You don’t need flawless credit to get a mortgage. In some cases, scores can be in the 500s. Read about your mortgage options by credit score tier.

Landlords or property managers generally aren't looking for immaculate scores, they are interested in your credit record. Learn more about what landlords really look for in a credit check.

What is a good VantageScore?

FICO's competitor, VantageScore produces a similar score using the same credit report data from the three bureaus. (NerdWallet's free credit score is your VantageScore using TransUnion data.)

A good VantageScore lies between 661 and 780, which the company calls a "prime" credit tier. VantageScores above 780 are considered "superprime" while those between 601 and 660 are "near prime." VantageScores below 600 are considered "subprime."

What is a good credit score according to lenders?

Lenders, such as credit card issuers and mortgage providers, may set their own standards on what "good credit" means as they decide whether to grant you credit and at what interest rate. In practice, though, a good credit score is the one that helps you get what you need or want, whether that's access to new credit in a pinch or lower mortgage rates.

What a good credit score can get you

Having good credit matters because it determines whether you can borrow money and how much you'll pay in interest to do so.

Among the things a good credit score can help you get:

  • An unsecured credit card with a decent interest rate, or even a balance-transfer card.

  • A desirable car loan or lease.

  • A way to pay expenses in a crisis in the event you don't have an emergency fund or it runs out.

A good credit score helps in other ways: In many states, people with higher credit scores pay less for car insurance. In addition, some landlords use credit scores to screen tenants.

So having a good credit score is helpful whether you plan to apply for credit or not.

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How to get a good credit score

Good credit habits, practiced consistently, build toward a good credit score. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Pay bills on time. This is important because payment history has the largest impact of all the factors in your score. A missed or late payment can do tremendous damage to a credit score and it can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years.

  • Try to keep your credit card balances well below your credit limits; aim for credit utilization under 30%, and lower is better. High utilization dings your score, but the damage will fade when you're able to reduce your balances and the lower utilization shows up on your credit reports. You also may be able to lower utilization by getting a higher credit limit or becoming an authorized user on a lightly used card with a large limit.

  • Keep credit accounts open unless there is a compelling reason, such as high fees or poor service, to close them. Keeping older accounts open helps your average age of accounts, which is a secondary influence on your score. Also, closing an account cuts into your overall credit limit, driving up your credit utilization.

  • Avoid making several credit applications in a short time frame. Credit checks for the purpose of credit decisions can cause a small, temporary dip in your score, and several in a short time can add up.

  • Monitor your credit reports and dispute information you believe is incorrect or too old to be included (most negative information falls off after seven years).

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