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A credit score is a three-digit number that summarizes your overall credit behavior when it comes to borrowing money and paying bills. You may have several different credit scores based on the scoring model and type of score used.
Credit scores typically range from 300 to 850. Credit score ranges are typically used to determine whether you have a high, average, or low credit score. This article will cover the two most commonly used credit scoring models (FICO and VantageScore) rank credit scores along with where most Americans fall in these ranges.
- Credit scores typically range from 300 to 850.
- Ranges can vary based on the credit score model, but they are often grouped into categories: poor, fair, good, very good, and exceptional.
- You can expect to access the peak benefits when you reach a credit score of 760 or higher.
- No matter what credit score range you fall in, you can take steps to improve your score with time.
What Are the FICO Credit Score Ranges?
FICO scores are one of the most commonly used credit scores. The FICO score was created by Fair Isaac Corporation in 1956 and it’s currently used by lenders in the mortgage, auto loan, and personal loan industries.
FICO scores range from 300 to 850 and in order for your credit score to be calculated, you must have at least one account that has been open for six months or longer. Your FICO score can change over time for various reasons such as:
- Opening or closing an account
- Missing a payment
- A change in your credit card balances
- A change in the age of your accounts
Due to this, it’s important to know the different FICO credit score ranges and what this can mean for your access to credit.
Range: 300 to 579
What it means: Poor credit means you have a very low credit score and may not qualify for a loan. Poor credit can also be referred to as bad credit or subprime credit. It means your credit score is well below the average score of most Americans and tells lenders that you’d be an increased borrowing risk. If you do qualify for a loan with poor credit, your interest rate will be higher. You are also more likely to have higher annual fees for any credit cards you do qualify for.
Range: 580 to 669
What it means: Fair credit is a step up from poor credit but still communicates a risk to lenders. As a result, you should expect to pay higher interest rates and fees if you’re approved for a loan. You may still need to do more work to find a lender who will work with you.
Range: 670 to 739
What it means: If you’re in the good credit range, you should have lots of loan and credit card options with reasonable terms. You can expect easier approval and lower interest rates since lenders consider people in this credit score range to be an acceptable risk. Interest rates and fees could still vary though, so it’s best to shop around and weigh all your options.
Very Good Credit
Range: 740 to 799
What it means: Someone with very good credit has a strong track record of attractive credit behavior. Lenders view those with good credit as dependable borrowers and will be more eager to offer attractive loan amounts and terms.
Range: 800 to 850
What it means: The highest tier which means you have the best possible credit score or close to it. People with excellent credit are the most likely to access favorable loan and credit card terms which include 0% APR and delayed first payment offers. An excellent credit score also means you’ll qualify for all the best rewards credit cards. While it’s great to get your credit score to this range, you may not notice a difference in the loan benefits you’d receive with very good credit.
How Are FICO Scores Calculated
Several factors are used to calculate FICO scores and these factors are intended to help lenders get a clear view of your financial habits and how you manage debt. Some of these factors below have more impact on your score than others, but each one is important.
- Payment history: 35% - How well you pay credit cards, loans, and other credit accounts on-time. Missing a monthly payment can damage your payment history.
- Amounts owed: 30% - The total debt amount you owe as well as how much revolving credit you’re utilizing compared to your total credit limit.
- Length of credit history: 15% - How old your accounts are on average.
- Credit mix: 10% - How many different types of accounts you have (Ie. credit cards, mortgage, auto loan, student loans.
- New credit: 10% - Opening a new account (if it makes sense for your financial situation) could positively impact this factor.
What Are the VantageScore Credit Score Ranges?
VantageScore is another common credit scoring model that is similar to FICO score. In 2006, VantageScore was founded by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. VantageScore is used by nine out of 10 U.S. banks and serves industries like auto, credit card, mortgage, and credit unions.
There are several versions of VantageScore as well and the most recently released version is Vantage 4.0. VantageScore credit scores range from 300 to 850.
Range: 300 to 600
What it means: Subprime credit is similar to poor credit. With subprime credit, you may not qualify for a loan or credit card. The credit products you do qualify for will have less desirable rates and terms. With subprime credit, you may need to start with an unsecured credit card and use it to build your credit to a higher credit score range.
Near Prime Credit
Range: 601 to 660
What it means: Near prime credit is better than subprime, but lenders still consider someone in this range a risk. You will likely be able to qualify for some loans and credit cards, but the rates and terms will still be less favorable than what you could get with prime or superprime credit.
Range: 661 to 780
What it means: Lenders consider people with prime credit to be desirable borrowers. They will offer them favorable rates, terms, and perks for credit cards and loans.
Range: 781 to 850
What it means: The highest possible range for a VantageScore credit score. People in this range will receive the best rates and terms, which could be slightly better than what people with prime credit can access.
How VantageScore is Calculated
VantageScore 4.0 credit scores are calculated similarly to FICO scores with a few noticeable differences. While payment history has the biggest impact, your VantageScore can also be affected by your total balances and the length of your credit history.
- Payment history: 41% - Payment history holds even more weight with the VantageScore model so it’s important to make sure you’re paying all your bills on time.
- Depth of credit: 20% - Total length of your credit history.
- Credit utilization: 20% - How much credit you use compared to how much you have access to.
- Recent credit: 11% - How many accounts you’ve opened recently as well as your existing credit inquiries.
- Balances: 6% - How much you owe across all open accounts.
- Available credit: 2% - How much credit you have available on revolving accounts.
What Is the Average Credit Score?
The average credit score in the U.S. is 714 according to Experian. Credit scores do vary depending on factors such as where you live and age as well.
Here is the average credit score by generation in 2022, according to Experian:
- Silent Generation (77 and up): 760
- Baby boomers (58 to 76): 742
- Generation X (42 to 57): 706
- Millennials (26 to 41): 687
- Generation Z (18 to 25): 679
Older generations are more likely to have higher credit scores if they’ve managed their credit wisely. This is due to the fact that they may have a longer credit history and a better credit mix. Whereas, younger generations may just be starting out with establishing credit history or managing high debt balances like student loans.
What Is the Highest Credit Score?
The highest credit score you could possibly reach is 850 for both FICO and VantageScore 4.0 models. Some other credit scoring models go higher than 850 such as the FICO Auto score which goes to 900.
TransRisk Score ranges from 100 to 900. However, these other models are only used in specific situations. In fact, Vantage Score 1.0 and 2.0 which ranges from 501 to 900 is no longer in use by lenders.
While you may want to aim for the highest score possible, getting an 850 credit score will not provide much more of a benefit than fi you had a 760 credit score. A credit score of 750 or more is still excellent and you can expect better loan terms, lower interest rates, and a better approval rate for credit applications overall.
Who Has the Highest Credit Scores?
People who have achieved an 850 credit score all have excellent financial and debt management habits. Someone with the highest credit score may have several years of credit history meaning they never missed a monthly payment. Since payment history makes up such a large part of your credit score, keeping up with this habit is one of the best ways to reach the highest credit score.
People with high credit scores also likely have no accounts in delinquency as well as lower loan and credit card balances. They may also have few hard inquiries and a healthy mix of long-term accounts open.
How Can I Get a Good Credit Score?
It can take years to build a good credit score, but there are many ways to get their through specific healthy financial actions. Here are some key ways to build a good credit score.
- Start by building your credit file. Apply for credit when you need it and consider secured credit cards or credit builder loans to start. These options will report your payments to the three major credit bureaus so you can establish credit history.
- Only apple for new credit when you need it. It can seem tempting to open a bunch of credit cards or loan accounts in an effort to boost your credit score. However, if you don’t need those accounts or can’t afford to pay those bills, this can actually hurt your credit. Of course, you need to open accounts to increase your score, but limit this to only the number of accounts or loans you need at the time.
- Always pay your bills on time. Prioritize paying your credit cards and loan accounts on-time to get a better credit score. Budget for monthly minimum payments or even set up automatic payment transfers.
- Manage your credit utilization. Always try to keep credit card balances below 30% of your total limit.
- Reduce your debt. Try to keep debt balances low and reasonable since carrying high debt amounts can reduce your credit score. Credit bureaus and lenders want to see that you’re not borrowing too much money to create a risk if you can no longer afford payments.
- Maintain your credit history. Finally, try to maintain your credit history by keeping your oldest accounts open. The best way to do this is to open a qualify credit card that you plan to keep for several years to come. You don’t have to spend on the card each month, but just keeping it open and making small payments occasionally can help boost your score.
The most commonly used credit scoring models range from 300 to 850 but there are some different models as well. The higher your credit score range, the more options and opportunities you’ll have when it comes to borrowing money and saving on interest charges.
No matter what your current credit score range is, it’s possible to improve your credit score over time with the right methods.