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You want a great credit score?  First you need to know what you’re working with.

Even if you know the number of your score, you won’t know if it’s good or bad until you know the range used by the scoring model. If you have poor credit, you may be dealing with a score in the 500s or 600s, but how close are you to the bottom?

FICO scores are commonly used in lending decisions, and the worst FICO score you can get is a 300. The same goes for VantageScore 3.0, and both scoring models have a high of 850.

Note: You may want a really high credit score, but aiming for perfection isn’t worth your time. Scores fluctuate constantly, because your creditors are reporting new information about your to credit reporting agencies on a regular basis. Even the same model will spit out a different score, because all credit bureaus don’t have the same data on you. Still, you should have a general idea of what’s good and what’s bad in terms of credit scores.

There are hundreds of scoring models out there, so I won’t be able to go over the ranges of all of them, but here are a few scores you may interact with as a consumer:

  • FICO score: 300 to 850
  • VantageScore (versions 1.0 and 2.0): 501 to 990
  • VantageScore 3.0: 300 to 850
  • PLUS score: 330 to 830
  • TransRisk score: 100 to 900
  • Equifax credit score: 280 to 850

With these and all other scores, you want to be closer to the top. Generally, those with poor credit fall below the 620 mark, so you’ll want to do what you can to get on the better side of scoring.

Getting Your Score Where You Want It

How do you do that? It’s not always an easy task, but there are straightforward tips that can help you reach your goals. Pay close attention to how you’re using your credit: Do you make your payments on time? Do you have a lot of outstanding debt? Do you apply for new credit frequently?

All these things play a role in your credit score. If you want to know more about how these things fit together to make up your credit score, you can look at a breakdown of two of your scores for free with a Credit.com account. And if you find yourself with a lower score than you’d like, you can make a plan to improve them.

Whenever you’re reviewing your credit scores, keep one thing in mind: It’s not impossible to recover from a low credit score. It may take several years, there is always a way to fix a less-than-desirable credit situation.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

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  • jesse140

    I am interested in leasing a new car. (my current least is almost up)
    my fico score is 635 what are my chances?

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

      The average score of people taking out a new car lease at the end of 2013 was 719, so you might want to see if you can improve your score a bit before you try to lease. Here are a couple of Credit.com resources that can help show you how to do it:
      3 Things You Must Do Before You Lease a Car
      How to Improve Your Credit Score

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