Whether you're flying high with a credit score in the 800s or laying low in the 600s, you aren't alone. Credit Karma compared the credit profiles of over 200,000 consumers with similar credit scores and found that the average Joe and Jane in the credit score ranges share more than three digits in common.
The wrong conclusion
When it comes to credit scores, many people assume that correlation is causality. For example, the infographic here shows that people with a high credit score generally also carry a large amount of debt. It's easy to assume that you need excessive debt to have a good credit score. But that isn't the case at all. The truth behind that conclusion is that only people with good credit - to qualify for credit cards with high limits, loans, and a mortgage - can accumulate large amounts of debt. Consumers with credit scores that need work don't have a lower credit score because they don't have more debt; they simply don't have the credit score to even access those kinds of financial opportunities.
The right conclusion
The infographic shows what kind of financial doors and credit habits consumers in each credit score range has, but again, correlation here isn't causality. Here's a short guide to why consumers in the 800+ range have a lot more in common than consumers in the 600+ range:
Open accounts. Having more open credit accounts is good for your credit. You should always consider this credit aspect before closing your old accounts, which can damage your credit score.
Total debt. It's credit myth that you need to take out loans or have lots of debt to have good credit. That simply isn't true. You will notice that people with 800+ credit scores actually have less debt that those with 700-799 credit scores. There is no exact correlation that more debt equals better credit, but the reality is that only people with good credit can accumulate debt.
On-time payments. Paying on time is one of the top drivers of a great credit score. Whether you have a few credit lines or many types of credit, paying all of them on time is almost a guarantee for a good credit score.
Number of credit cards. Credit cards are an easy way to build credit. Contrary to popular belief, carrying a balance or paying interest isn't what benefits your credit score. Simply using your card once a month and paying on time is the key to building good credit. There are many people who have never paid a single cent of interest and still have pristine credit by properly using their credit cards.
Total debt and utilization.People with good credit actually use a much smaller percentage of their total available credit. Similar to the way they handle debt, good credit consumers know how to manage credit responsibly. For example, people with a credit score in the 800+ range are only using 5% of their credit limits, whereas people with a score in the <500 range are using over 100%.
Lastly, it is important to mention that all of these numbers are averaged and there are still differences across all metrics.
Editorial Note: The opinions you read here come from our editorial team. While compensation may affect which companies we write about and products we review, our marketing partners don't review, approve or endorse our editorial content. Our content is accurate (to the best of our knowledge) when we initially post it, but we don't guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. You can visit the company's website to get complete details about a product. See an error in an article? Use this form to report it to our editorial team. For questions about your Credit Karma account, please submit a help request to our support team.
Advertiser Disclosure: We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.
Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.
Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.