What is credit scoring?

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Learn about the financial behaviors that affect your credit score

Here's how the FICO score works, what is considered a good credit score, and how to increase your credit score from good to great. There are other scoring models out there, but FICO is the model lenders most commonly use, by far.

The formula that determines your FICO score is a well-guarded secret, but we do know that the FICO score is made up of five categories of information:. Many credit card issuers give a free credit score to customers.

How to Understand Credit Scores

These days, many offer the FICO score, but not all of them do. If your credit card company gives you a credit score that's not based on the FICO model, it's still probably a solid indicator of how you're doing, but the scoring model and range may be a little different from those discussed here. To be clear, there is no set number that is defined as the cutoff between a "bad" and "good" FICO score.

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And in practice, a good score depends on what you're buying. For example, if you're getting an FHA home loan, any score above will get you approved. However, a score in the upper s can be required for the best credit cards. The average American consumer has a FICO score of , so that's a good reference point to determine how you're doing relative to others. Additionally, FICO offers these guidelines to help you interpret your own credit score:.

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If your score is in the "good" range in the chart, you'll generally be able to qualify for a mortgage loan with a competitive interest rate. The best rates are reserved for top-tier buyers, but the difference in interest rates between good and excellent credit scores may be less than you think.

What is a Credit Score? | myFICO

As of this writing, here are the mortgage rates consumers with various levels of credit scores can expect, and the difference they can make to your mortgage payment:. The same can be said for auto loans. As long as your income is enough to justify the loan, a good credit score will generally get you approved for a car loan, new or used.

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  • Your interest rate won't be quite as good as an excellent-credit borrower would get, and your dealer may require more money down, but approval is generally not a problem with good credit. As far as credit cards go, there are some credit card products specifically designed for individuals with fantastic credit scores, and these may or may not be beyond your reach if you have a good credit score.

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    • Fortunately, there are some excellent credit card products available to people with good credit scores, and you can check out our favorites here. There is no way to build great credit quickly. I always tell friends that it's possible to go from no credit to good credit in a fairly short period, but that building excellent credit takes time. Throughout your life, credit scores can play a key role in the financial products you take out.

      For example, when applying for a credit card or mortgage, your credit score could be used to help determine whether your application is accepted and what you end up paying.

      Credit Scoring

      People with a higher score are often seen as lower risk, which means lenders are more likely to give them credit. You should also be aware that too many credit searches in a short time period may be viewed negatively by lenders.

      What is a credit scoring system?

      Your credit score is based on your credit report. Various different factors on your credit report can cause your credit score to change, including:.