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What Is a Credit Score? Understanding Credit Score Ranges

Andrew Omalley Updated: January 18, 2024 • 6 min read
credit score

Have you ever wondered what a credit score is? It's a numerical snapshot lenders use to measure how risky it is to give you credit. This simple number can hold much weight in your financial life, influencing your ability to get a loan, the conditions, and even the interest rates you'll face. In this article, we'll dive deeper into the world of credit scores, shedding light on what they mean, how they're calculated, and their impact on your financial journey.

What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a number between 300 to 850 that represents how trustworthy you are as a borrower. It's like a financial grade telling banks and lenders how good you are at repaying loans. This score is based on your credit history, including loans, credit cards, and payment records. The higher your score, the more likely you will get approved for loans and credit cards, often with better interest rates. It's a key part of your financial life, helping lenders decide how risky it is to lend you money.

What Factors Impact My Credit Score?

Credit scores are calculated using credit report information. Here's a simple breakdown of how they're typically calculated, especially for a FICO score, which is one of the most common types:

  1. Payment History (35%): This is the biggest part. It looks at whether you pay your bills on time. Late payments, bankruptcies, and other negative marks can hurt your score.
  2. Amounts Owed (30%): This is about how much you owe compared to your credit limits, known as your credit utilization ratio. Using a smaller percentage of your available credit is better.
  3. Length of Credit History (15%): A longer credit history is usually better. This considers how long your accounts have been open. It includes the age of your oldest account, the newest account, and the average age of all your accounts.
  4. New Credit (10%): Opening several new credit accounts in a short period can be risky. This part checks how many new accounts you have and how many recent inquiries you have on your credit report.
  5. Credit Mix (10%): This looks at the types of credit you have, like credit cards, mortgages, car loans, etc. A mix of different types of credit can be beneficial, but it's not a major factor.

What Doesn't Affect Your Credit Score

Several factors don't affect your credit score, even though people think they might. Here's a list of things that don't impact your credit score:

  1. Your income: How much money you make doesn't directly impact your credit score. However, lenders may consider your income when giving you a loan or credit.
  2. Your Employment Status: Whether you're employed, unemployed, or self-employed isn't factored into your credit score.
  3. Your Age: Your age is not a factor in your credit score.
  4. Your Marital Status: Being married, single, divorced, or widowed doesn't affect your credit score.
  5. Your Education Level: Your level of education, whether you're a high school graduate, have a college degree, or any other educational background, doesn't influence your credit score.
  6. Your Location: Where you live, whether in a big city or a small town, doesn't impact your credit score.
  7. Your Bank Balance or Assets: Your credit score does not consider the amount of money in your bank accounts or assets.
  8. Interest Rates on Your Current Loans or Credit Cards: The interest rates you pay on existing loans or credit cards don't affect your credit score.
  9. Rent Payments: Generally, rent payments are not reported to credit bureaus (unless you're late), so they don't affect your credit score. However, some services can report your rent payments to credit bureaus if you want them to count.
  10. Utility and Phone Bills: Like rent payments, utility and phone bills are typically not reported to credit bureaus unless delinquent.

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Why Do I Have Different Credit Scores?

You might have different credit scores for several reasons:

  1. Different Credit Bureaus: Three main credit bureaus exist – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Each might have different information about you. So, when they calculate your score, it can come out differently.
  2. Various Scoring Models: There are a variety of ways to calculate scores. The most common model is FICO, but there's also VantageScore and others. Different models can give different results.
  3. Updates at Different Times: Creditors might report to bureaus at different times. So, one bureau might have more up-to-date info than another.
  4. Different Types of Scores for Different Purposes: There are scores for car loans, credit cards, or mortgages. These specialized scores can vary based on what they're designed to predict.

In short, it's normal to have different scores from different places. Focus on healthy credit habits. All your scores should look good!

Credit Score Ranges

Credit score ranges are categories used to evaluate how risky a borrower might be to lenders. These ranges are typically divided as follows:

  • Excellent Credit Score: 800 to 850
    • Borrowers in this range are at very low risk of defaulting on loans. They usually get the best interest rates and loan terms.
  • Very Good Credit Score: 740 to 799
    • This range is still considered above average and indicates a strong credit history. Borrowers here often receive favorable loan conditions.
  • Good Credit Score: 670 to 739
    • Falling within the average range, lenders generally view borrowers with these scores as acceptable risks.
  • Fair Credit Score: 580 to 669
    • Scores in this range are below the average. Borrowers might still qualify for certain loans, but often at higher interest rates.
  • Poor Credit Score: 300 to 579
    • This is considered a poor credit range. Borrowers in this bracket may find it difficult to get approved for traditional loans and, if approved, may face high interest rates.

Knowing the different credit score ranges can help you understand where you stand and how lenders view your credit history. Maintaining a good credit score can help you qualify for better loan terms, lower interest rates, and other financial benefits.

Lendstart's Efficient 4-Bracket Credit Score System for Better Lending

At Lendstart, we categorize credit scores into four distinct brackets to provide a clear and efficient assessment of creditworthiness.

  • Excellent: 720-850
  • Good: 690-719
  • Fair: 630-698
  • Poor: 300-629

This simplified bracket system lets us quickly evaluate loan applications and offer the most suitable terms based on the borrower's credit score. It helps our clients understand their financial standing and guides them in making informed decisions about their credit and loans. We aim to streamline the lending process using these four brackets, ensuring clarity and efficiency for lenders and borrowers.

Lendstart Credit Score Ranges

How Does Credit Scores Work 

A lender will look at your credit score to determine whether or not they should extend you a loan and at what interest rate. It allows them to determine the chances of getting paid back on time and in full. 

What Credit Score is Excellent?

A credit score between 800 and 850 is considered excellent. This means you're a trustworthy borrower, leading to more attractive interest rates and favorable terms on loans and credit cards. Achieving and maintaining excellent credit involves all the previous advice and careful, long-term management of your finances.

What is a Good Credit Score? 

A good credit score typically falls within the range of 670 to 739 according to the FICO score model, which is one of the most commonly used scoring systems. A good credit score shows that you have been responsible in the past when dealing with credit. Many lenders only deal with people with a credit score of at least 670. This shows how important striving toward getting a good credit score is. 

What is a fair credit score?

A fair credit score ranges from 580 to 669. It's a step above poor credit but still limits your options. You may qualify for some credit products with fair credit, but not at the best rates. To move from fair to good credit, focus on debt reduction, timely payments, and maintain a low credit utilization rate.

Understanding Poor Credit

Poor credit, typically considered as a score below 580, can make it challenging to get approved for credit. If approved, you'll likely face higher interest rates or unfavorable terms. Missed payments, high utilization rates, or a short credit history usually cause it. Improving from poor credit involves addressing these issues, reducing debt, and making timely payments.

Improve Your Credit Score in 5 Simple Steps

  1. Pay your bills on time.
  2. Keep credit card balances low.
  3. Don’t open too many new accounts at once.
  4. Keep old accounts open to improve your credit history.
  5. Check your credit reports for errors.


The Bottom Line 

A healthy credit score can open many doors and make life much smoother. Following some straightforward steps can significantly improve your score, leading to more accessible access to loans and more favorable loan terms. Remember, a good credit score can save you money on loans and credit cards, so it's worth keeping it healthy!

Now that you better understand what makes up your credit score, you can navigate your financial journey more confidently, knowing how your actions might shape your credit profile.

Andrew is a freelance writer who has been crafting valuable pieces of content relating to personal finance for more than five years. Previously, he studied Economics & Finance at university and he has professional qualifications relating to financial advice.