Credit score explanation
Your guide to credit score ranges
In a Nutshell
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.
You know your credit scores, but what does that actually mean?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Should I just apply anyway?
It’s best not to because each application can result in a hard inquiry, which could hurt your credit. You can research your likelihood of being approved by checking Credit Karma’s Approval Odds (remember: Approval Odds are predictions, not guarantees) for a particular card or by getting prequalified for an offer (although remember that prequalification isn’t the same as being approved — you still need to apply for the card).
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.
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.
How many credit scores do I have?
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how many scores you may have but it could be hundreds. There are many different credit-scoring models, and even the same model could give a different score depending on whether it uses data from your Experian, Equifax or TransUnion credit report.
Sometimes, a few points can make a big difference.
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.