Your credit score — it’s essentially a mathematical calculation that can make or break your financing dreams.
All credit scores fall into a specific credit score range, which tell what type of credit risk you present. Generally, the higher your credit score, the less of a credit risk you present.
Here’s what you need to know about credit score ranges:
Credit score ranges
Credit scores typically have a range of 300 to 850, and a good credit score ranks at 700 or higher.
Two of the most popular credit scoring models are VantageScore and FICO. Both models have ranges of numerical scoring that categorize a consumer’s credit score. Each range has a rating, such as “poor,” “fair,” “good” or “excellent.”
But the FICO and VantageScore models have different breakdowns for credit score ranges. What one lender considers as a “good” credit score, another lender might consider as just “fair,” depending on the credit-scoring model used.
VantageScore was created in 2006 by TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. The goal was to a better and fairer scoring model that was easier to apply.
VantageScore 3.0 is the most popular VantageScore scoring model with credit score ranges from 300–850. Here’s the breakdown of the ranges within each specific scoring category:
VantageScore 3.0 ranges:
- Excellent Credit: 810-850
- Great Credit: 750-809
- Good Credit: 670-749
- Fair Credit: 560-669
- Poor Credit: 500-559
- Very Poor Credit: 300-499
FICO score ranges
The FICO model was the first credit-scoring model introduced to the lending world in 1989 by the Fair Isaac Corporation. The FICO scoring model generates both base and industry-specific credit scores.
FICO’s base scores are based on a credit score range of 300-850. They predict how likely a consumer is to default on payments for any type of account. The most widely used version is FICO 8.
Here’s the breakdown of the ranges within each specific scoring category:
FICO 8 score ranges:
- Excellent: 800 -850
- Very Good: 740-799
- Good: 670-739
- Fair: 580-669
- Poor: 300-579
VantageScore model vs. FICO model
Although the VantageScore and FICO models have basic similarities, they also have a few primary differences.
Score Ranges – VantageScore and FICO score on a range of 300 to 850 with similar ratings.
Credit File Sourcing – Both gather consumer credit files from TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian®.
Rating Criteria – Factors that matter most in FICO scores also carry the most weight for VantageScore:
- Payment history
- Length of credit
- Types of credit
- Credit usage
- Recent inquiries
Paid Collection Accounts – Collection accounts you have paid-off no longer count against you with FICO or VantageScore.
Multiple Credit Inquires – Both FICO and VantageScore penalize you for multiple hard inquiries within a short timeframe, unless you are rate-shopping (auto or mortgage) in which case it’s counted as one inquiry.
Scoring Requirements – VantageScore’s consumer-friendlier model can issue credit scores to 30-35 million people considered “unscoreable” by FICO.
- FICO requires at least six months of credit history and at least one credit account reported within the last six months.
- VantageScore only requires one month of history and one account reported within the past two years.
- VantageScore will accept alternative scoring data, such as utility, rent and phone bill payments that have been reported to the credit bureaus. FICO does not.
Other credit scores
Although VantageScore and FICO are the most popular credit-scoring models, other models exist. One thing all of the models have in common is that a lower credit score equals more risk and a higher credit score equals less risk.
Here’s a look at a couple of other credit scoring models:
TransUnion New Account Score 2.0: Range of 300-850
Financial institutions use this model to manage their existing accounts. It predicts how likely specific consumers are to default within the next three months.
Experian’s PLUS Score: Range of 330-830
The PLUS score is a consumer-only score, developed by Experian. It’s sometimes offered for free online. It is for educational purposes only, so that consumers can see their relative credit risk level.
What is a good credit score?
The VantageScore 3.0 model ranks a good credit score as being between 670 or higher. According to the FICO 8 scoring model, a good credit score is between 670 or higher.
What is a bad credit score?
Any score that falls between the 559 or lower is considered “poor” by the VantageScore 3.0 model, whereas a credit score of 579 or lower is considered “poor” by the FICO 8 credit-scoring model.
When a few points can make a big difference
Depending on the type of loan, borrowers might have to meet certain thresholds to qualify.
For example, to qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage loan, borrowers must meet a certain credit score rating or else the lender can’t make the loan. So if the threshold to qualify for financing is 500, a borrower with a credit score of 499 will be denied.
Additionally, the interest rate a lender offers you can also be determined by a few points on your credit score. Lenders use risk-based pricing, which means that a borrower who presents a higher risk won’t get as good of an interest rate than someone who has excellent credit.
If you don’t meet the lender’s credit score threshold for its very best pricing, you’ll likely pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more in interest than someone who does qualify for the best rates.
How does your credit score affect your life?
Your credit score isn’t just a random number. It’s a specific number that affects your ability to borrow money and get a good interest rate. Here’s a look at how a being in a specific credit-score range can affect your life:
People with very good and excellent credit scores may be:
- eligible for better interest rates, payment terms and options than consumers with lower scores
People with fair to good credit scores may be:
- more likely to get approval than those with poor credit
- able to choose from a wider selection of lending options and offers than those with poor credit
- less likely than those with higher credit scores to get the best rates
People with poor credit may be:
- less likely to be approved for loans or credit cards than those with higher scores
- more likely to be offered higher rates and fewer payment terms and options than those with higher scores
What impacts your credit score and what does not
Plenty of myths are out there about what affects your credit score and what doesn’t. Here’s what you need to know:
Factors that do impact your credit score:
- Payment history
- Amount owed
- Credit history length
- Amount of new credit
- Types of credit
- Credit utilization
- Account closures
Factors that don’t impact your credit score:
- Checking your own credit
- Net worth
- Criminal history
- Marital status
- Debit card use
- Whether you receive government benefits
Lenders look at more than credit scores
Although your credit score is important, a lender’s decision to give you credit isn’t just based on that one number. Instead, lenders often also look at the following factors:
Lenders want to see proof that you can repay your debts. Prospective borrowers with little to no income will likely be seen as a higher risk to creditors and might be denied.
If you’ve worked at a company for several years or more, you can appear to be a good credit risk. If you have a history of moving from job to job, however, lenders might be concerned. This can result in credit denial or less favorable payment terms.
The less money a lender loans, the less risk it assumes. If your credit score isn’t that great, you can reduce the risk for the lender by offering a significant down payment. This might get you approved for the loan.
On the other hand, if your credit score is good and you offer a generous down payment, you might be able to snag a lower interest rate.
In case of a financial emergency, such as losing your job, lenders want to know if you have liquid assets on hand that can be used to pay your financial obligations. If you do, a lender may consider you less of a credit risk.
Length of time in your residence
The longer you’ve been in the same residence paying either a mortgage or a consistent rent payment, the more stable and responsible you will appear to lenders.
Student loan debt
Because these type of loans can create a significant debt load, lenders may evaluate your risk based on them — especially if you are just out of college and haven’t had time to firmly root yourself in your career.
Phone number stability
Just like living in the same house for a number of years can make you appear a good credit risk, so can having the same phone number. Both demonstrate stability. If you’ve changed your number repeatedly, however, it can give lenders reason to doubt your stability.
The Bottom Line
Where your credit score falls within the credit-score range matters, so it’s a no-brainer to monitor it. But instead of sweating every point, focus on good credit habits. Actions such as: paying on time, keeping credit balances low and opening new accounts only when necessary, can all lead to a stronger credit score.
What do you think? Do you think monitoring your credit score could help you push it into the next highest range? Let us know in the comments!