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What’s my credit score and why is it important?

What’s in a number? Understand the importance of your credit score – starting with how to find it.

Your credit score isn’t just a tool that helps lenders determine how much risk they take on when they lend to you, it can also affect rental applications and even insurance rates. In this guide we’ll show you where you can find your credit score and what goes into calculating it.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a summary of your credit history expressed as a number ranging from 300 to 850. While several different credit bureaus offer credit scores, the most widely known type of credit score is developed by FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation). It’s a risk-based system that calculates the possibility of you defaulting on your next loan – the lower your score, the higher the possibility you’ll default.

Credit qualityApproval oddsRecommended credit card issuers
  • Poor
Well below averageFirst Progress Platinum Elite MasterCardUSAA Secured Card Visa PlatinumFirst Progress Platinum Secured MasterCardUNITY Visa Secured Credit CardUSAA Secured Card American Express®Fingerhut Credit Account, AccountNow Prepaid Debit Cards
  • Fair
Below averageCredit One Bank® Cash Back Rewards Visa®, Credit One Bank® NASCAR®, Credit One Bank Platinum Visa
  • Good
Above averageChase Sapphire Preferred, BankAmericard Travel Rewards, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier, Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
  • Excellent
Well above averageBarclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCardBarclaycard CashForward World MasterCard
If you’re worried about your credit score and want to take steps to repair it, you could call The Credit Pros: Legal Credit Repair on 877-208-6484.

Credit score meter image

What are the credit score tiers and ranges?

Identifying your credit score range can be quite difficult. This is because financial institutions determine ranges differently. As a result, with one bank, your FICO score could place you in their “Excellent” bracket, while the same score might place you in the “Good” range with a different bank.

The table below shows credit score ranges/tiers reported by several financial services websites:

SiteCredit Score Tier 1Credit Score Tier 2Credit Score Tier 3Credit Score Tier 4Credit Score Tier 5
CafeCreditBad – 300-639Fair – 640-679Good – 680-719Best – 720-850N/A
CreditKarmaPoor – 549 or lowerFair – 550-639Good – 640-719Excellent – 720 or higherN/A
Credit SesameVery Poor – 499 or lowerPoor – 500-549Fair – 550-639Good – 640-719Excellent – 720-850
ExperianPoor – 579 or lowerFair – 580-669Good – 670-739Very Good – 740-799Exceptional – 800 or higher
NerdWalletPoor – 350-629Average – 630-689Good – 690-719Excellent – 720-850N/A
WalletHubBad – 300-619 Fair – 620-659 Good – 660-719 Excellent – 720-850N/A

Source: https://www.creditkarma.com, https://www.nerdwallet.com, http://www.experian.com, https://www.creditsesame.com, https://wallethub.com, https://www.cafecredit.com.

Do you only have one credit score?

You have multiple credit scores, as each one is calculated differently depending on the credit reporting agency. Companies can request your score from any of these agencies, and so can get a different score. However, you will always have the same history. If there are no errors listed on your file, your shouldn’t have a good score with one agency and a bad score with another.

Where can I get my credit score?

There are various ways to get your credit score:

  • Your account statement. Some banks and financial institutions list your credit score on your credit card or loan account statement. Check your statement to see if this is a service offered to you.
  • Credit score services. There are many free credit score services that don’t require your credit card details. Credit Sesame is one such provider, offering your credit score for free. You can also get your credit report below. Keep in mind these free services don’t provide you with your FICO score; you will instead get a score based on a non-FICO scoring model.
  • Credit bureaus. You can find out your credit score and purchase score-monitoring services directly from FICO, Experian, TransUnion and or Equifax.
  • Credit or housing counsellors. If you are in need of financial counseling, credit and housing counsellors can provide you with a copy of your credit report and credit score for free.
Details Features
Experian Credit Report
Experian Credit Report
Get your credit report and FICO score for just $1 with enrollment in Experian CreditWorks credit monitoring. Cancel anytime.
  • 3 credit reports
  • Track your FICO® score
  • Easy to use dashboard
Enquire
TransUnionCredit Report
TransUnionCredit Report
TransUnion credit score, monitoring and identity theft insurance.
  • Unlimited updates to your TransUnion credit score
  • Up to $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance
  • Personalized debt analysis
Enquire

Have we missed anything in the comparison table? Tell us

  • If the provider quotes a different rate to the one above please let us know
Details Features
CreditRepair.com
CreditRepair.com
Repair your credit online with CreditRepair.com or call directly 855-897-9466.
  • Repair your past
  • Monitor your present
  • Build your future
Enquire
Debt.com
Debt.com
Debt.com and Power Wallet have the tools to help you manage your money.
  • Get answers
  • Calculators & free budget tools
  • Self help
Enquire
CuraDebt: Tax Debt Relief Free Consultation
CuraDebt: Tax Debt Relief Free Consultation
FREE consultation 877-797-0209. 100% confidential. OBB member in good standing.
  • Get your free saving estimate
  • Experience of more than 15 years nationwide
  • Member of online business bureau in good standing
Enquire
The Credit Pros: Legal Credit Repair
The Credit Pros: Legal Credit Repair
We believe that fast credit repair is a personal issue that demands personal attention.
  • Help force the deletion of erroneous credit damage
  • Provide practical, honest credit advice when you need it
  • Help you set realistic, reachable credit goals
Enquire More info
Lexington Law Credit Repair
Lexington Law Credit Repair
Call now for a FREE credit report summary & credit repair consultation.
  • Remove incorrect listings from your file
  • Find out what is in your credit file
  • Personalized services
Enquire

Have we missed anything in the comparison table? Tell us

  • If the provider quotes a different rate to the one above please let us know

What makes up your FICO credit score?

As the most common type of credit score, it’s important to know the FICO score is calculated. There are five components which make up your FICO credit score, with each of them weighted differently:

  • Payment history – 35%. Your payment history refers to whether you made payments on your credit account on time or whether you have any defaults, liens, lawsuits or bankruptcies listed on your records. If you do make a payment late, how much it affects your score will depend on how late the payment is, how much is owed, how recently it occurred and how many late payments you’ve made.
  • Credit utilization – 30%. This is the total amount of your credit card balances divided by your total credit card limits. It makes up 30% of your FICO score, and 30% is the credit card utilization percentage you should aim for.
  • Length of credit history – 15%. How long is your credit history? When did you first apply for a credit card or loan? The further back your history goes the better off you may be. If you have a short history, or no history at all, you may find it just as hard as someone with bad credit to be approved for a loan.
  • Type of credit in use – 10%. The type of credit accounts you have also have an affect on your FICO score. Whether or not your credit accounts are open won’t matter because the fact you held them will still potentially affect your score.
  • New credit – 10%. The number of credit inquiries you’ve made recently and over the past year will affect your score. It’s generally not advised to make multiple inquiries over a short space of time.

Those three digits can make a big impact on your life – good and bad – so they’re worth keeping an eye on. Monitor your credit score carefully and you may just help edge it closer to the 850 mark.

Need to repair your credit? Compare prices of services who might be able to help:

Company Name:Phone Number:Cost of Service
curadebtCuraDebt: Tax Debt Relief Free ConsultationOn average, are 20% of the total debt amount enrolled.
lexington lawLexington Law$119.95 one-time First Work Fee, $119.95/Month.
creditrepair.comCreditRepair.com$99.95 per month, plus a 1 time charge of $14.99 to obtain your credit reports.
The Credit Pros: Legal Credit RepairThe Credit Pros: Legal Credit Repair$179 per individual and $279 per couple for the first payment.
debt-comDebt.comVaries by service.

Frequently asked questions

No. Each party has their own individual credit score. If you blend your finances, your spouse’s credit habits may affect your creditworthiness.

It usually takes seven years for negative information to leave your credit report. In the case of bankruptcy, it will take 10 years.

Every time your report changes, your score changes. New information is added with every payment (or missed payment), so it’s pretty consistently changing.

Elizabeth Barry

As a writer for finder.com, Elizabeth specializes in personal finance, with her passion centring on helping people find better for whatever they're looking for.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    PaulJune 7, 2017

    I’m retired and I receive a estimate of 1400 a month, which 1300 is directly deposited in my south gate savings account. I was trying too get a 1500 loan to fix my home. Need d asap

    • Staff
      AnndyJune 15, 2017Staff

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your question.

      You may want to check this page to compare loans for retired people.

      Kindly review the eligibility criteria and the relevant terms and conditions of the loan before submitting your application.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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