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Guide to Credit Score Ranges

By Dan Miller · March 02, 2023 · 7 minute read

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Guide to Credit Score Ranges

Almost everyone in the U.S. (and many other countries) has a credit score, which is a three-digit number that some lenders use to evaluate whether or not to extend credit to you. In some cases, a lender will use your exact credit score as a determining factor. In other cases, they’ll group similar credit scores into a credit score range.

Different companies use different credit score ranges, but in most cases, your credit score will be grouped into one of five different categories: excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. The better your credit score, the more likely you are to get approved for new loans and the lower your interest rate is likely to be if you are approved.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a three-digit number that attempts to encapsulate your total credit history, meaning your track record of repaying debt. There are a few different companies and models that are used, but credit scores typically range from 300 on the low end to 850 on the high end. Many lenders will use your credit score to determine whether or not they want to issue you new credit.

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What Are Credit Score Ranges?

Credit score ranges (sometimes referred to as a credit rating scale) are a way to group together similar credit scores. Each company that makes credit scores has its own way of grouping credit scores, but they tend to follow a similar pattern. There are usually five different credit score ranges — excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

How Credit Scores Are Calculated

There are a few different companies that calculate credit scores, and each one does it in a slightly different way. Typically, the various credit bureaus like Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion collate all sorts of information about each individual, from their payment history to their credit usage to the age of their credit accounts. They lease this information to companies like the Fair Isaac Company (FICO), which then uses that information to calculate a FICO score.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

How to Check Your Credit Score

There are a few ways you can check your credit score. You can purchase it from a provider, or your credit card company or other financial institution may provide your credit score for free. Or, you may use a free credit scoring website or other service to get your score.

Your credit score updates regularly as the underlying information that the credit bureaus report changes. Every time you open a new credit card, make a payment to one of your debts, apply for credit, or do anything else credit-related, your credit score may update.

What Is a Good Credit Score?

The various companies that calculate credit scores have different models and different ranges for what credit score is considered “good.” Roughly speaking, a credit score of 670 to 739 is considered “good”, with credit scores of 740 to 799 being “very good” and scores over 800 being considered “excellent.”

Factors That Impact Your Credit Score

Each company that calculates credit scores uses their own proprietary formula to calculate credit scores. Five of the common criteria used to calculate credit scores are:

•   Payment history

•   Credit usage

•   Length of credit history

•   Credit mix

•   Recent credit inquiries

Credit Models Applied by Different Companies

You may wonder why you have different credit scores, and the answer is that there are different credit models applied by different companies. Depending on what company is doing the calculation, they may calculate your score slightly differently.

Generally speaking, each company that calculates credit scores looks at mostly the same types of information, so your different credit scores should be similar. It would be rare (if not impossible) to have a bad credit score from one credit model and excellent credit in another.

Lenders Credit Score Grouping

Some lenders may use your exact credit score to determine whether to extend credit, whereas others may group scores into a range. For instance, a particular lender might give one interest rate to people with excellent credit and a higher rate to those with very good or good credit. Meanwhile, they may choose not to extend credit at all to those with a fair credit score or lower.

Credit Score in Relation to Your Age

There is not a strict correlation between your age and your credit score. You might think that there is a specific starting credit score, but the truth is that when you are just starting out, you don’t have any credit score at all. As you get older, however, you have more chances to show that you are responsible (or not responsible) with your credit, and your credit score is adjusted accordingly.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Consequences of Having a Low Credit Score

Having a low credit score can have quite a negative impact on your financial life. If your credit score is too low and you don’t meet the minimum credit score for a credit card, you may not be able to get approved for loans, including a credit card. And if you are approved for a loan, you may have to pay significantly higher interest rates than someone with better credit.

Tips for Building Your Credit

There is no one magic way to build your credit — instead, your credit will build as you show that you’re responsible with the loans that you already have. For example, as you use your credit card responsibly by paying your monthly statement on time, your credit score may go up as compared to someone who pays late or misses payments.

Other ways that you can work toward building your credit from scratch include avoiding using too much of your available credit and keeping old accounts open to maintain the age of your accounts.

Monitor Your Credit Score

Another thing you can do to try and secure a solid financial future is to regularly monitor your credit report and credit score. Keeping an eye on the information in your credit report can help you know if there’s any inaccurate or incorrect information in it. If there is, correcting it can be one way to improve your credit score.

Additionally, keeping an eye on your credit score can clue you into what effect different behaviors have on your credit score. This can help you make more informed credit-related decisions in the future.

The Takeaway

Some lenders may use your exact credit score when deciding whether or not to extend credit to you or what interest rate to apply to your account. Others may look at credit score ranges and have different rates or programs for people whose scores fall in different ranges. There are five basic credit score ranges, which stretch from poor to excellent.

If you have a credit score that’s in the very good to excellent range, you might look at rewards credit cardschar like the SoFi credit card. With the SoFi credit card, you can earn cash-back rewards, which you can then use to invest, save, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

For a limited time, new credit card holders† who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/23.

Take advantage of this offer by applying for a SoFi credit card today.


FAQ

What is the average credit score?

As of 2021, the average credit score in the U.S. was 714, according to data from the credit bureau Experian. That marks an increase of four points from 2020. Other companies that provide credit scores may have a different average credit score.

What benefits does a good credit score provide?

Having a good credit score can have a variety of positive financial impacts. You may need a minimum credit score to get a credit card that you want to apply for, or you may qualify for a lower interest rate on some loans as compared to someone with a lower credit score.

Can my credit score affect my loan eligibility?

Yes, your credit score can absolutely affect your eligibility for certain loans. If you have a bad credit score, you may not get approved for a loan from some lenders. Or, if you are approved, you may have to pay a higher interest rate than someone with a better credit score.

Can a very poor credit rating prevent me from getting a cell phone contract?

Yes, it is possible that having a low credit score might prevent you from getting a cell phone contract. Some cell phone providers look at your credit score when you’re applying for a cell phone contract. If you have a low credit score, you may not be able to qualify for some contracts, or you may have to put down a security deposit beforehand.

Will low credit impede my chances of getting a rented apartment?

There are some landlords or property managers who look at your credit score when deciding whether or not you qualify for an apartment. If that’s the case for an apartment you’re looking at, then having a low credit score may have a negative impact on your chances of qualifying.


Photo credit: iStock/anyaberkut

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, fractional shares or cryptocurrency in your SoFi Active Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

†SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS PROSPECTIVELY BASED ON MARKET CONDITIONS AND BORROWER ELIGIBILITY. Your eligibility for a SoFi Credit Card Account or a subsequently offered product or service is subject to the final determination by The Bank of Missouri (“TBOM”) (“Issuer”), as issuer, pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Please allow up to 30 days from the date of submission to process your application. The card offer referenced in this communication is only available to individuals who are at least 18 years of age (or of legal age in your state of residence), and who reside in the United States.

*You will need to maintain a qualifying Direct Deposit every month with SoFi Checking and Savings in order to continue to receive this promotional cash back rate. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. A maximum of 36,000 rewards points can be earned from this limited-time offer. After the promotional period ends or once you have earned the maximum points offered by this promotion, your cash back earning rate will revert back to 2%. 36,000 rewards points are worth $360 when redeemed into SoFi Checking and Savings, SoFi Money, SoFi Invest, Crypto, SoFi Personal Loan, SoFi Private Student Loan or Student Loan Refinance and are worth $180 when redeemed as a SoFi Credit Card statement credit.

Promotion Period: The Program will be available from 10/1/22 12:01 AM ET to 12/31/23 11:59PM ET

Eligible Participants: All new members who apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card, open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, and set up Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) into their SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi Credit Card members who set up Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi members who have already enrolled in Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account prior to the promotion period, and who apply and get approved for a SoFi Credit Card during the promotion period are eligible. Existing SoFi members who already have the SoFi Credit Card and previously set up Direct Deposit through SoFi Money or SoFi Checking & Savings are not eligible for this promotion.

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