By Glenda Brass, MBA
A good credit score is what each of us aspires to. After all, a credit score is one of the important determining factors when it comes to borrowing money – and getting a low rate when you do. But trying to pin down a specific number that means your credit score is “good” can be tricky. When it comes to figuring out what makes a good credit score, there are a few different schools of thought.
Most credit scores – including the FICO* score and the latest version of the VantageScore – operate within the range of 301 to 850. Within that range, there are different categories, from bad to excellent.
•Excellent Credit: 750+
•Good Credit: 700-749
•Fair Credit: 650-699
•Poor Credit: 600-649
•Bad Credit: below 600
But even these aren’t set in stone. That’s because lenders all have their own definitions of what is a good credit score. One lender that is looking to approve more borrowers might approve applicants with credit scores of 680 or higher. Another might be more selective and only approve those with scores of 750 or higher. Or both lenders might offer credit to anyone with a score of at least 650, but charge consumers with scores below 700 a higher interest rate!
With credit scores, the higher the number, the lower the risk. That means consumers with higher scores are more likely to get approved for credit, and to get the best interest rates when they do. And they are more likely to get discounts on insurance and qualify for less down when it comes to large purchases. For example, if you’re buying a $300,000 house with a 30-year fixed mortgage, and you have good credit, you could end up paying more than $90,000 less for that house over the life of the loan than if your credit was mediocre. This means the monthly payments are lower over time as well!
Don’t assume your score is good (or isn’t) just because you have always paid your bills on time (or haven’t.) The only way to know whether you have a good credit score is to check. You’re entitled to one free report annually…go to annualcreditreport.com. This is a consumer service – no payment information is requested. Make sure all the information contained in your report is accurate. If it isn’t, report it immediately for correction.
Do everything you can to protect your credit and make it as strong as possible. Freddie Mac offers consumer education (CreditSmart®) that can be accessed online at www.freddiemac.com/creditsmart. Brass and Brass also offers this training through our Operation Purchase A Home Initiative. Simply give us a call for our class schedule. This curriculum is designed to help you understand credit and budgeting in a way that will enable you to make lifetime changes and enjoy the benefits of financial intelligence.
*Note: there are other models besides FICO. These include Equifax, TransRisk; PLUS Score, and a few others. Since FICO is the most popular, the score range above only represents their range. Other ranges go as low as 100 and as high as 990.