Sign up for your free Credit.com account    Sign Up Now
From the Experts at Credit.com

What is a Good Credit Score?

by Gerri Detweiler

A good credit score can save you money by lowering interest rates. Learn what is considered to be a good credit score number from the experts at Credit.com

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.

The Credit Score Range Scale

There are many different credit scores available to lenders, and they each develop their own credit score range. Why is that important? Because if you get your credit score, you need to know the credit score range you are looking at so you understand where your number fits in.

The Credit Score Range Using Various Scoring Models:

  • FICO Score range: 300-850
  • VantageScore 3.0 range: 300–850
  • VantageScore scale (versions 1.0 and 2.0): 501–990
  • PLUS Score: 330-830
  • TransRisk Score: 100-900
  • Equifax Credit Score: 280–850

With all of the scores listed above, 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. What is considered a “high” score depends on what type of score is being used.

If your FICO score is 840, for example, you’re just 10 points shy of the highest score possible and your credit is “superprime.” But if you have an 840 VantageScore (using version 2.0), it’s not as spectacular because you’re 150 points away from the highest possible score.

How Do I Rate?

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 599

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!

What’s Your Score?

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 can get your credit score free once a month at Credit.com. This is a truly free credit score – no payment information is requested. In addition to the number, you’ll see a breakdown of the factors that affect your score and get recommendations for making your credit as strong as possible.

How Are Credit Scores Generated?

Credit scores compare factors like payment history, debt levels and the age of credit accounts to figure out what consumers who pay their bills on time have in common. The goal is to predict how new and existing customers will handle credit.

Ultimately then, a credit score summarizes the information in your credit report, which makes it easier and faster for a lender to process a loan application and make a determination as to how likely you are to pay back the loan in question.

The Benefits of a Good Credit Score

A good credit score will help you borrow money for a car or home, or open a credit card with a comparatively lower interest rate. That means you will pay less over time for the money.

Consider this: if you’re buying a $300,000 house with a 30 year fixed mortgage, and you have bad credit, then you could end up paying more than $90,000 more for that house over the life of the loan than if you had good credit.

So, in the end, it really pays to understand your credit scores and to make them as strong as possible.


  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I know some of these score factors can seem very frustrating. First of all, it sounds like you are on the right track in terms of getting your credit together after your divorce. So congratulations for that.

    What are your grades for the other factors that make up your score such as mix of credit and inquiries? (You can find out here: get your free credit score). Debt ratio sounds pretty good but if it’s your utilization ratio then bringing it down a bit further might help, depending on the scoring model being used.

    As far as the “age of credit” factor goes, the only thing you could possibly do there is to piggyback on someone else’s card with a long credit history, but even then it’s not certain that you’d see an increase (especially if that person wasn’t a relative at your same address). And that strategy has risks – if they pay late your credit can suffer.

    I am not sure which scoring model you are looking at, but it certainly sounds as if you continue on the track you are on you should definitely see improvement over time.

  • CR

    Actually you’re just off the mark in some areas. I have a 8 year history with no loans just 3 credit cards the newest of which is about 4 years old and 1 credit unquiry for a utility recently. My score is is between 780 and 810 (depending upon the credit agency). I would suggest a few things, first get your debt ratio down to about 15% (under 20%) that makes a big difference. Second try not to use all your credit cards, limit the use to one credit card or maybe 2. (this also helps your auto insurance score). Third never let your debit limit per month cross 20% to get top notch scores. I pay off my card mid month if I’ve made some large purchases. With this you should see a good increase in your score in a few months.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    A debit card can be convenient for ordering online and so forth, but it won’t help you build credit. If your parents have good credit, you could ask to become an authorized user on one of their cards. You could also consider using your savings to get a secured credit card. In that case, the amount you put on deposit (minus any fees) becomes your credit limit. If you can keep your balance at less than 30% of that amount, you’ll help yourself establish a good score. You’ll find more information here:

    How to Build Credit the Smart Way

    Everything You Need to Know About Authorized Users

    • Engineered Reality

      That’s pretty solid advice. Also, taking out a secured loan from a bank or credit union is a great way to build credit and to maintain a positive credit history. I don’t just give credit advice, I also have an 820 credit score.

      • Jules

        You keep bragging about your 820 credit score. Geesh!

      • Dan

        Putting money in a savings account and then borrowing against it (“secured loan”) in order to build or maintain credit is one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard. If you’re not a banker or a financier of some sort, you ought to be. What you are saying, in effect, is that you’re willing to give the banks your money (via interest) in order to maintain what is ultimately a completely arbitrary credit score.

        There is absolutely no need to do this and, again, it’s hard to imagine this coming from anyone but a financier who stands to benefit from it.

        Rather than putting money into an account and then borrowing against it (which will entail interest payments), a person should apply for a secured credit card and pay off the balance in full each month. This will help build credit. Once a credit history is established, then decide if you want to apply for a few other credit cards in order to build a more substantial credit history.

        Always pay credit card balances off in full each month. There is absolutely no reason, ever, to pay interest to the banks (neither credit card interest nor “secured loan” interest) in order to build or maintain credit.

        The only time to ever consider carrying a balance month-to-month on a credit card is if you have a card that has an introductory offfer of zero percent APR for a given amount of time (usually 6-18 months). In this case, you can use it as an interest-free loan. For example, you could get a card that has zero APR for 12 months and put $1200 on it, knowing that you can easily afford to pay $100 per month. You diligently pay the $100 each month and, at the end of the year, it’s completely paid off and you’ve paid absolutely no interest on it. This only works if you don’t charge anything else to the card or, if you do, if you pay off whatever you charge in full each month, in addition to paying the $100. This isn’t a good habit to get into, and it certainly isn’t recommended for frivolous purchases, but it is a nice way to beat the banks at their own game.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the landlord to request this. He or she doesn’t know there is nothing to report. You can ask the landlord if he will accept your son’t report from AnnualCreditReport.com (and if there is no report he should get a notice to that effect which you could potentially share with him.) But the reports landlords order sometimes include criminal background checks as well, and that wouldn’t show up there.

    Depending on how tight the rental market is where you live trying to challenge this requirement may just make the landlord move on to someone else.

  • Engineered Reality

    I’d have to know more about your situation to give advice, but Social Security payments and retirement annuity payments both count as income.

  • jac

    When I was 16 I had a credit card in my name that was connected to my parents account. Because of this I had enough credit when I was on my own. Then when I shared apartments I made sure to have a utility in my name. You can get a credit card with maybe $1000 limit but do not charge more than 10% off that limit a month! That’s how I started out my credit and my first score was 750! Years later after building I’m at 812. You can’t get much higher than that.

    • Bluffguy

      Actually, yes you can, but that does not mean it is not a very good score !

  • kenny

    Engineered Reality, what do mean “by taking out a secured loan against himself.” I am out of bankruptcy for over a year now and tryin to rebuilt my credit. these past few monthsn I have seen my credit score jump from 649 to 682 now.

    • Mike

      You can take out a secured loan. That means you secure the loan with a savings account in the same amount. So, you put $1,000 in a savings and borrow a $1,000. The savings account pays for the loan and if you set it up on auto draft then you will never be late. Just make sure you include the interest.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It can be done. There are attorneys who specialize in credit damage lawsuits.

  • thegr8_1

    My credit was destroyed early on during my time in the Marine Corps (hello predatory lending) somehow, My score is in the “good” range, yet I’m still turned down by Ebert credit card I apply for. And I don’t apply for many because of that reason. Pretty soon I’ll be down in the depths because of student loans. Hopefully I can get a job out of college (I chose a skill that is actually in demand -computer science) instead of a liberal arts degree that is not usable in the real world.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Very sorry to hear what you been through, especially as a result of predatory lenders while you were serving our country. Have you thought about trying to rebuild your credit using a secured credit card? If you have your free credit score, which areas of your credit are strong, and which are getting low grades?

  • Bluffguy

    Suggest that you avoid debit card. Get a secured credit card ( you pay a certain amount up front ) and pay it down 100% every month. You will start to establish a credit history. Most young people do not have bad credit, they just have no credit history. You can’t start off with a car loan, start off small with credit card and build it from there. Banks and credit rating agencies want to see a history of paying back loans, and income to support continued repayment of loans.

  • Karinnkade

    I have credit cards that have been compromised. The bank issued me new ones. My credit report has two cards, the two different numbers. The problem is they are the same account. My credit report lists them as two separate accounts. So it looks like I am in higher debt than I am. Does anyone know how to get the duplicate accounts removed? Thanks

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Yes, you’ll need to dispute it with the credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Here’s how to do it: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes.

      If you follow the steps, you should be able to get it resolved relatively quickly. And good for you for checking. It’s a good habit to get in to protect your credit.

  • worried mom

    My 21 year old son wants to get a credit card, he’s been turned down because he doesn’t have a credit history. I’ve been thinking about making him a co-signer on one of my credit cards, however I have very bad credit (a bankruptcy & a foreclosure) will my bad credit follow him afterwards?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Do you mean an authorized user? (A co-signer generally uses his or own good credit to help someone with little or no credit history get a card, while an authorized user is allowed to use an account but has no responsibility for paying it off.) And yes, your poor credit could hurt him. Another way to help him get a credit history would be to get a secured card. Here are a couple of Credit.com resources that may be useful to you:
      How Secured Cards Help Build Credit
      How to Give Your Kid a Good Credit Score

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Yes I noted that it’s a risky strategy and I wasn’t necessarily recommending it. I was simply pointing out that it’s about the only way to affect the age of credit factor other than waiting for current accounts to age.

  • John

    Good article. I guess the metrics can vary between different scoring models… The metric’s on FICO’s website is little bit different then what you’ve posted. They have poor credit listed between 350 – 599, fair credit as 600 – 659, good credit at 660 – 719, and excellent credit at 720 – 850.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Right. That’s why if you are checking your own credit, it’s a good idea to use the same model consistently.

  • eddie

    Amen

  • Brnet

    Consider your credit score a “Debt Score”. Your score really reflects your ability to STAY IN DEBT, and of course, pay bills on time. When the data breach at Target happened, I checked my balances often and was actually downgraded 20 to 30 points on my fico score for accessing my bank balance too many times. How silly is that. Credit scores are a joke. Work hard, save hard and pay with cash. Over a lifetime, the average joe would save $1000’s if not $10’s of thousands in interest charges.

  • Riceburner1

    Actually you have no clue why you are down ! I am retired have my house paid for 12 years now. Buy new cars every 10-12 years weather I need one or not. I have 4 credit cards all for different purpose that I pay off every month fully.. My score is 817 and my better half is 827. Hers is higher because she is a female! BTW I have not had any credit in 12 years other then my credit cards !!!

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    We can’t tell you that with any certainty. Credit scores fluctuate (so even if you get it there, it won’t stay). Things like what your balance is on a credit card on the day it is checked can affect your score. And there are so many variables in play that credit is generally classified within ranges — it’s best not to obsess over a few points up or down. For more, see:
    Why a Perfect Credit Score Doesn’t Matter

  • papasan173

    After reading this blog I can see that the average American has no clue as to how credit and credit scores work. If you don’t know how something works it is very hard to fix, or improve, it. No wonder the country is in such a poor financial shape.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    You may have put your finger on the problem. Co-signing puts you on the hook for the full amount of your niece’s loans, and those will be considered debt obligations that you owe. However, it is possible to appeal a credit card rejection. Here’s information that may be useful to you:

    How Co-Signing Can Affect More Than Just Your Credit Score

    The Art of Overturning a Credit Card Rejection

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It can be tricky with low limit cards like that but you are on the right track. Do you know what the closing date is for your statement? If you can pay that balance before the statement closing date your credit report should show a zero balance and then it definitely won’t be a factor!

  • Dave

    Ron, I’m thinking the drop in score is because of the addition of the inquiry necessary to get any credit card, not because of the balance. If you pay the balance before the statement it will show $0 on your statement and they will not report the payment made on time because I did that the first month with my secured card and found that out. Your score will improve, just remember to keep your inquiries in check just like your debt percentage and payment history.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      That’s a good point – the inquiry could cause a temporary drop. Not sure what you mean about not reporting the payment on time when you made the payment early. Did they report you late?

      • Dave

        Gerri, since the statement had a $0 balance, there was nothing reported for the payment. It wasn’t reported late, they simply reported nothing since there was no balance on the statement to be paid. I thought it odd, then just waited until the statement came out and paid it, sure enough they reported on time payment. I am using several different sites to follow my score, each showing different variations, but all have been rising in the 10 months since I started tracking them, I started below around and below 650 on all, and have seen changes to 677 here and a transunion score that isn’t showing my older late stuff that will be removed in 2017 is currently showing a 751 score. That shows just how varied scores can be from one reporting agency to the next.

  • rkmtt

    credit scores are manufactured by those that have no clue….

    if one never uses credit but has 2 million in liquid assets he /she probably would rate a poor rating

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Exactly. Because the amount of assets doesn’t accurately predict the likelihood that a lender will be repaid. Habits over time are much more predictive (though income is certainly a consideration in credit decisions).

  • Rose

    My credit was excellent and then I decided to get a new car, motorcycle & some of those cc’s with good points, rewards. That dropped my score down to bac down fair at the moment! I have quite a few cc’s and all are paid in full each month. So I know my score will go back up. Actually, I”m trying to raise it as high to 850 as I can. It seems after following these forums, you can see what you need to do to have an excellent score. I had a mortgage a couple cc’s. Not enough to get that “excellent” score. I’m starting to see they want you to be able to “handle” your credit very wisely. A higher cl but a very low utilization seems to do the trick with a various mix of loans. Thanks everyone for your input. I would be stuck in the 600’s forever if I didn’t start reading this forum!

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Glad it’s helping Rose.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Ronald – Paying off an installment loan shouldn’t typically cause your credit score to drop significantly. Paid installment loans don’t get removed from your credit reports, so the payment history and age of the account still help. What service are you using to monitor your credit scores? Do you have other open credit accounts?


Sign up for your free Credit.com account. Learn More
  • Meet Our Expert

    gerri_detweiler GravatarGerri Detweiler is Credit.com's Director of Consumer Education. She focuses on helping people understand their credit and debt, and writes about those issues, as well as financial legislation, budgeting, debt recovery and savings strategies. She is also the co-author of Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights, and Reduce Stress: Real-Life Solutions for Solving Your Credit Crisis as well as host of TalkCreditRadio.com.
  • Stay Connected to Our Experts

    Please submit your email address to get credit & money tips & advice
    from our team of 30+ experts, delivered weekly to your inbox.