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You know your credit scores, but what does that actually mean?
You may even know what credit score range you’re in — but do you know the significance of being in that range?
Making matters more complicated, you have multiple credit scores because there are different credit-scoring models and it can be difficult to understand why there’s variation between them.
Despite the confusion, knowing where you fall on a credit score range can be immensely helpful. It can help you predict whether you’ll qualify for a new loan or credit card, so it’s worth working to understand it all.
FICO and VantageScore Solutions create the most widely used consumer credit scores and update their scoring models from time to time. For example, VantageScore Solutions just released a new version of its scoring model, VantageScore 4.0.
FICO has two main types of credit scores:
• Base FICO® Scores: These 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® Score versions: These tailor credit scores for particular types of lenders, such as auto lenders or credit card issuers.
The ranges listed below can give you a general understanding of where you stand compared to other consumers.
At a glance: A guide to credit score ranges
and VantageScore 4.0
|300 to 600||601 to 660||661 to 780||781 to 850|
|FICO® Score 8 and FICO® Score 9||300 to 579||580 to 669||670 to 739||740 to 799||800 to 850|
|Industry-specific FICO® scores||250 to 579||580 to 669||670 to 739||740 to 799||800 to 900|
Breaking down credit score ranges
There are common traits among different credit scores. For example, FICO and VantageScore Solutions use similar criteria for determining a score. Also, a lower score indicates someone is riskier to the lender; in other words, he or she is less likely to repay debt.
Here’s how your scores (either FICO or VantageScore) could impact your financial options:
Poor: 300 to mid-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.
Fair to good: the mid-600s to mid-700s.
You are more likely to get approved for financial products and may be able to shop around and compare options between different lenders. However, you still might not get the best terms.
Very good and excellent: 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.
The applicants 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.
The same scores might mean different things
As you can see from the table, 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.
However, according to Jeff Richardson, vice president of marketing and communications for VantageScore Solutions, lenders create or use their own ranges 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 — they were already offering you the best deal.
However, 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. That’s because 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.
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.