The credit score range explained

April 7, 2021

Credit Score Range Explained Image

Your credit score, which is typically a number between 300 and 850, will fall into one of several ranges: poor, fair, good and very good or excellent. The range your credit score falls into is very important because it can determine whether you can get a loan, how high your credit card interest will be and whether or not you can rent an apartment. It can even influence some job prospects.

Credit reporting agencies use your past tendencies to predict your ability to make debt payments in the future. This is what makes up your credit score. But which credit score range does your score fall into, and what does it mean for you? We’ll answer these questions and more for you here.

What is a credit score range?

The range of a credit score can tell you whether you have good credit or bad credit. The higher your credit score, the better your credit is. Better credit makes it easier to obtain credit cards and loans and to get desirable loan terms.

Whether your score is considered “good” or not depends on which kind of score it is. There are many scoring models available, and they all have their own ranges. In addition to these different ranges, the two most popular scoring models, FICO Score®VantageScore®, also use formulas that prioritize different aspects of your credit history.

When you better understand how credit scores work, you’ll be better able to improve your credit in the long run. Plus, it makes it easier for you to predict whether you’ll qualify for a new loan or credit card.

What is a good credit score?

A good FICO credit score typically falls in the range of 670 – 739, while a good VantageScore is between 661 and 780. In general, if your FICO score is considered good (or poor, or excellent, etc.), it usually follows that your VantageScore is as well, but you will want to check to be sure.

As we mentioned earlier, the main credit score ranges to understand include poor, fair, good and very good/exceptional.

Poor credit range

FICO: 300 – 579; VantageScore: 300 – 600

For the most part, a poor credit score falls somewhere between 300 and 579. Depending on the model you look at, a poor credit score can even be as low as 250. No matter where you land in this range, your credit is poor and lenders are not likely to approve your applications. If your application does get approved, you’ll likely have to pay more fees and higher interest rates.

If you have low credit and want to improve your score, getting a credit card can help. A lot of times, if you’ve never had credit, your credit score will be low. If you can’t get approved for a regular credit card, try getting a secured card instead. These types of accounts can help you build credit and are usually easier to get approved for.

Fair credit range

FICO: 580 – 669; VantageScore: 601 – 660

The fair credit range comprises most scores in the high-500s to the mid-600s. While consumers with fair scores still have a lot of room for improvement, they’re more likely to be approved for credit than those with poor scores, which can be a relief for anyone who is working on steadily improving their score.

If this applies to you, focus on taking steps like paying all of your bills on time and in full, and working to pay down more debt. Your credit score isn’t set in stone, so there’s still plenty of opportunity for you to increase your score going forward.

Good credit range

FICO: 670 – 739; VantageScore: 661 – 780

Consumers in the good credit range usually fall between the mid-600s and the mid-700s. The benefits of having a good credit score are that you have an easier time being approved for loans and often get better interest rates. These scores won’t get you the very best interest rates, but you’re less likely to pay high fees and interest rates, which is a big plus.

Many people have credit scores in the good range, and it’s not uncommon for consumers to find themselves feeling stuck in the mid-700s. This is okay, as a good credit score is still beneficial. You’ll be able to apply for loans and get new credit cards that can help you build your score so that it gets to the excellent range.

Very good to exceptional credit range

FICO: 740 – 850; VantageScore: 661 – 850

infographic people with 800s credit score have long credit history and pay bills on time

A very good or exceptional credit score is usually anything above the mid-700s. (In the VantageScore model, these scores are referred to as “excellent.”) While scores over 800 are considered the best, it’s nearly as good to have a score somewhere in the ballpark of 800. People with an excellent credit score are most likely to obtain credit with the lowest interest rates.

Getting into the excellent range usually takes time, so if this is your goal, be patient. Consumers with a credit score in the 800s tend to have a lengthy credit history and pay all their bills on time, so emulate their habits if you want to join the “800 club.”

Understanding your credit range

Understanding which range your score is in can be very beneficial. It can help you make strategic choices on when to apply for credit and what you should apply for. If you have a poor credit score, you have a high chance of being denied if you apply for a loan or a high-reward credit card, so you might want to improve your score before you apply. Understanding where you fall can also help you set goals to improve your credit score.

Different credit scores

Because there are lots of different credit scores, it may be difficult to understand what range you actually fall in. You may have looked at your VantageScore, only to find out that your lender is using your FICO score, which can be very different. A lot of lenders also create their own credit score scale that may have a different definition of what is poor, fair, good or excellent. They may do this to help them decide whether or not an applicant meets their specific guidelines or requirements.

You may also find that your scores can vary as much as 100 points from one credit bureau to another. Regardless of what credit score you’re looking at, remember that the higher your credit score, the better off you are.

Fluctuating scores

If you regularly monitor your credit score, you may see that it changes a lot. Your credit scores are not stagnant numbers. They can change in a short amount of time because you make payments or use credit.

If your various scores are incredibly different from one another, it may not be anything to worry about. This may be due to how scores are calculated differently. However, it could also be because your creditors are only reporting information to one credit bureau as opposed to all three. It could even be because information is updated with one credit bureau before it’s updated with the other credit bureaus.

If your credit scores are different from each other, you should try to investigate why, especially if you think there’s no reason they should be so drastically different. No need to panic, though, because having different credit scores isn’t that uncommon.

Lender preferences

Unfortunately, not all lenders have the same preferences and criteria, so scoring ranges may differ from lender to lender. This will often depend on what credit model the lender uses. For example, VantageScore considers 661 to be a “good” credit score, while FICO considers that same score to be “fair.” And as we already mentioned, lenders will sometimes even create their own credit score ranges based on their chosen criteria.

Even though credit score ranges can vary, it’s important to understand where you fall. Lenders will often offer rates based on credit score thresholds, and even a drop of a few points can put you below the threshold for a certain rate.

Knowing where you stand gives you the opportunity to build your credit before applying for a large loan, or understand what deals you’re currently eligible for.

Other factors lenders consider

infographic about debt-to-income ratio

When it’s time to borrow money, a good credit score isn’t the only thing lenders consider. Having a great credit score doesn’t guarantee you the best interest rate, and having poor credit doesn’t mean you won’t get approved.

Lenders look at whether or not you can afford to repay the credit you’re applying for. To do this, they will often look at the debt you hold and the income you’re bringing in. This is your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

This ratio takes into account your income as well as any mortgages, auto loans, student loans, personal loans, alimony or child support and credit card payments. If they determine your monthly debt costs are too high, they will be hesitant to add to that debt.

While DTI does not directly impact your credit score, it is part of what lenders take into account when evaluating you. For this reason, it’s important to consider it along with your credit score.

How credit score ranges affect your life

If your score is lower than 600, you may be able to get credit, but it will often come with high fees and interest rates. Here are a few other things your credit can affect that you may not know about.

  • Employment: Many employers check credit scores during the application process. They do this because having a high credit score can be an indication of trustworthiness. On the other hand, having a low score can indicate a candidate is less trustworthy or not financially savvy.
  • Insurance: Since credit is linked to reliability, many insurance agencies will take it into account. They calculate their own credit-based insurance score to predict the likelihood you will have an accident or file a claim, and credit scores are a part of this calculation.
  • Utilities: When you open an account to get water, electricity and heat at your house, the company will likely run your credit. If your credit score is low, you may have to pay a hefty deposit. This is because you will be perceived as a more risky client than one with a high credit score.
  • Apartments: Most people know that a good credit score is required to take out a mortgage loan, but not that apartments often require good credit as well. Landlords will often look at your credit score to determine if you will be able to make rent on time. Those with a low score may pay higher deposits, or may not be approved at all.

Understand your credit score range

Since your credit score impacts so many areas of your life, monitoring your credit score is important. There are several ways to do this. Many credit card companies offer free credit reports, and so do many banks. A free online credit monitoring service is another great option.

Once you are familiar with what credit score range you fall into, you can begin to understand what types of loans and benefits you qualify for. If you need to repair your credit in order to acquire a certain loan (like a mortgage), you can begin to take the necessary steps to do so.

If you want to improve your credit, give the credit consultants at Lexington Law Firm a call today for a free credit consultation. For over a decade we’ve been helping clients improve their credit by removing negative information that is unfair, inaccurate and unsubstantiated. Help yourself get back on track to good credit today.

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Reviewed by Brad Blanchard, Supervising Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Brad is an attorney at Lexington Law firm whose practice is primarily focused on corporate compliance. His focus is primarily in the areas of marketing and advertising of financial services. He regularly deals with issues related to FTC Regulation 5, UDAAP, FCRA, FDCPA, CROA, TCPA, and TSR. He also has experience in LLC formation, contract review and negotiation, and trial and litigation experience in the areas of consumer protection and family law. Prior to joining Lexington Brad worked on Department of Labor administrative law cases and federal class action lawsuits. He also externed for a Utah State Court trial judge where he worked on both civil and criminal cases. Brad is licensed to practice law in Utah and Ohio. He is located in the North Salt Lake office.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

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