Your guide to credit score ranges

Young woman sitting on a bus and thinking about credit score rangesImage: Young woman sitting on a bus and thinking about credit score ranges

In a Nutshell

Knowing where you fall on different credit score ranges can help you make smarter financial decisions tailored to your credit profile.
Louis DeNicola is a personal finance writer and has written for American Express and Discover. Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.
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Understanding credit score ranges is really important.

Knowing where you fall on a credit score range can be immensely helpful because it can give you an idea of whether you’ll qualify for a new loan or credit card. Your credit scores can also help determine the interest rates you’re offered — higher rates could add up to lots of money over time.

Let’s take a deeper look at the different credit score ranges and what they can mean for you.



Understanding your credit scores

First off, you have more than one credit score, and there are a few reasons for that.

There are different scores for specific products. For example, there are special auto and home insurance credit scores. There are also different credit-scoring models, like FICO and VantageScore, which means you could have scores according to each model. Even the same model could give a different score depending on whether it uses data from your Equifax, Experian or TransUnion credit report.

Lastly, there are multiple consumer credit bureaus that provide credit reports on which scores are based. So depending on what information each bureau gets from individual lenders — and that can differ — the data used to compile your reports and build your scores could vary from bureau to bureau.

When you put it all together, that means that each individual could have multiple scores, and sometimes they don’t match. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how many scores you may have, but it could be hundreds.

Even though there are many different credit scores out there, it’s worth knowing the general range that your scores fall into — especially since they can determine your access to certain financial products and the terms you’ll get.

FICO and VantageScore Solutions create the most widely used consumer credit scores, and these companies update their scoring models from time to time.

VantageScore 3.0® credit score ranges

Here’s what the ranges look like for VantageScore 3.0.

Credit score ranges Rating

300–600

Poor

601–660

Fair

661–780

Good

781–850

Excellent

FICO credit score ranges

FICO has two main types of credit scores.

  • Base FICO consumer scores — These scores predict the likelihood a consumer won’t make a payment as agreed on any type of account in the future, whether it’s a mortgage, credit card or student loan.
  • Industry-specific FICO scores — These credit scores are tailored for particular types of lenders, such as auto lenders or credit card issuers.

FICO® 8 and 9 consumer score ranges

Credit score ranges Rating

300–579

Poor

580–669

Fair

670–739

Good

740–799

Very good

800–855

Exceptional

FICO industry-specific score ranges

Credit score ranges Rating

250–579

Poor

580–669

Fair

670–739

Good

740–799

Very good

800–855

Exceptional

What credit score ranges mean for you

Lower scores indicate that someone is riskier to the lender — in other words, they’re less likely to repay debt.

Here’s how your credit score range (either FICO or VantageScore) could affect your financial options.

Poor: 300 to low-600s

You might not be able to get approved for a loan or unsecured credit card at all. If a lender or issuer does approve an application, it likely won’t offer the best terms or lowest possible interest rate. If you’re looking for a credit card, you may have better luck with a secured credit card.

Fair to good: Low-600s to mid-700s

You’re more likely to get approved for financial products and may be able to shop around and compare options among different lenders. But you still might not get the best terms.

Very good and excellent/exceptional: Above mid-700s

A lender could deny an application for another reason, such as having a high debt-to-income ratio, but those with top credit scores likely won’t have their applications denied because of their credit scores.

People in this score range are also most likely to get offered a low interest rate and may have the most options when it comes to choosing repayment periods or other terms.

What your credit score means depends on the model

As you can see, different credit-scoring models may have different ranges and scoring criteria. That means the same credit score could represent something different depending on which credit model a lender uses.

A VantageScore 3.0 score of 661 could put you in the good range for example, while a 661 FICO score may be considered fair.

And lenders create or use their own standards when making credit-based decisions. In other words, what one lender might consider “very good” another could consider “good.”

Even with all the variability, knowing where you generally fall on the credit score range can still be important. Your range could help you determine which financial products you’re eligible for and the terms a lender might offer you.

Sometimes, a few points can make a big difference

Slight day-to-day fluctuations in your credit scores are common and aren’t necessarily an indication that you’re doing something wrong. The difference between a few points might not even matter.

Say you have a credit score of 810, and you’re eligible for a lender’s best rates and terms. If your score increases to 815, it might not matter — the lender was already offering you the best deal.

But some lenders’ underwriting criteria require an applicant to meet a credit score threshold. In these cases, a rise or drop of a few points could make a big difference. So if you don’t make the cutoff, your application could automatically get rejected.

Knowing where you stand in relation to a lender’s threshold or recommended credit range can help you find the financial products you’re eligible for and give you a goal if you’re working on building your credit.

Credit score factors

There are common traits among different credit scores. For example, FICO and VantageScore use similar criteria for determining a score. Here are some of the important components in formulating your scores — though take note that these factors aren’t weighted equally.

  • Payment historyThis shows whether you pay your debts on time. Creditors prefer folks who pay on time, every time.
  • Amount owedThis indicates how much debt you have in relation to your available credit. A good rule of thumb is to try to keep your credit use at 30% or below of your combined credit limits.
  • Length of credit historyThis is how long you’ve had open credit accounts. Generally, the older your accounts, the better.
  • Credit mixThis makes up the different types of credit you have in your name. Creditors may want to see that you can handle various types of credit well.
  • Recent applications for creditApplying for credit can trigger a hard inquiry, which can lower your scores.

Now that you know the factors that make up your credit scores, you can focus on building or maintaining your scores so that your credit will be in good shape when you need to apply for a financial product in the future.


Bottom line

Ultimately, lenders may set their own credit ranges and criteria for approving an application. But if you know where you stand on a credit score range, you can make educated guesses about your financial profile.

You’ll be able to better predict whether an application will be approved or if you’ll qualify for low interest rates or other favorable terms. If you use this knowledge while shopping for financial products, you may be able to avoid submitting unsuccessful applications.


About the author: Louis DeNicola is a personal finance writer and has written for American Express, Discover and Nova Credit. In addition to being a contributing writer at Credit Karma, you can find his w… Read more.