Credit matters when looking to buy a house, car or any other pricey asset. Unless a consumer is flush with cash, the path to home and vehicle ownership may go through a mortgage or a loan. Good credit can provide you with terms and privileges not available to a person with poor credit, including lower interest rates and increased borrowing capacity.
We delve into what constitutes a good credit score and the reasons why it is important to have a good credit score.
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What’s Considered Good Credit?
Consumers with standard credit scores of 661 or greater are considered to have good credit, because they rank as prime or super prime in terms of their risk assessment. A bad credit score falls on the lower end of the range and a good credit score falls on the higher end of the range.
Many credit scoring models, including the standard FICO® Scores and VantageScore 4.0, measure an individual’s credit risk on a three-digit scale ranging from 300 to 850. The highest risk group are consumers with deep subprime credit scores from 300 to 500, and the lowest risk group are consumers with super prime credit scores from 781 to 850, according to Experian.
Consumers may build and attain good credit by paying their bills on time, maintaining a mix of accounts and keeping their revolving balances under 30% of credit limits.
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8 Benefits of Good Credit
Here are the eight core benefits of good credit, which highlight why it is important to have a good credit score:
Benefit #1: Easier Access to Credit
Good credit may provide you with easier access to additional credit. When a consumer applies for a credit card or personal loan, lenders may analyze the consumer’s credit report and credit score to make an informed decision on whether to approve or deny the application. A person with good credit is considered low-risk and therefore has an easier time getting approved for a personal loan compared to high-risk borrowers.
Benefit #2: Lower Interest Rates
Consumers with good credit may qualify for lower interest rates when borrowing money. For example, available financing data for new vehicle purchases in the first quarter of 2022 show consumers in the deep subprime category of bad credit have obtained auto loans with 14.76% interest on average. Meanwhile, consumers in the super prime category of excellent credit secured 2.40% interest rates on average. That amounts to an over 12 percentage point difference in interest rates.
Benefit #3: Lower Car Insurance Premiums
Many auto insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores to help categorize consumers by risk and determine what premiums they may pay. Under this practice, higher-risk consumers may pay higher auto insurance premiums than lower-risk consumers. In some states, having good credit or improving your credit score may lead to lower auto insurance premiums over time.
Benefit #4: Increased Borrowing Capacity
Consumers with good credit may obtain larger credit limits than those with poor credit. This could translate to greater spending power on a credit card and the ability to make larger purchases on credit. Having good credit also puts you in a better position to apply for and obtain new credit.
A bolstered borrowing capacity is not limited to credit cards either — credit unions and banks may offer personal loans to consumers with good credit. Such loans can help you consolidate debt, finance large purchases or obtain fast cash to weather an unforeseen emergency. Personal loans also may command lower interest rates than credit cards.
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Benefit #5: Easier to Buy a Home or Car
Good credit can help you buy a house with a good mortgage rate or a car with affordable financing. Borrowing money to own a home or vehicle comes at a price that includes principal and interest. Consumers with good credit may qualify for 0% annual percentage rate loans for a car, where no APR means no interest or finance charges. Establishing good credit may also improve your likelihood of obtaining a low-APR mortgage, which translates to lower debt repayment obligations.
Automotive consumers had an average credit score of 738 for new vehicle purchases and 678 for used vehicle purchases in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to Experian’s quarterly report. This shows the average automotive consumer boasted good credit within the prime category of low risk.
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Benefit #6: More Apartment Lease Options
Signing a lease to an apartment may require good credit. Landlords who conduct credit checks might deny lease applications if a prospective tenant has bad credit. Or, those with poor credit may have to provide a higher security deposit for rental housing compared with a prospective tenant who boasts good credit. Tenants with good credit also may have more leverage to negotiate for lower rent.
Benefit #7: Helps Satisfy Employment Background Checks
Jobseekers can benefit from good credit, as some employers may consider a person’s credit score when making hiring decisions. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says that a low credit score or credit invisibility is a burden that can “limit housing choice and employment opportunity,” whereas “a good credit score is part of the pathway to self-sufficiency and economic opportunity.” The term “credit invisible” refers to consumers who lack a credit score or credit history.
Benefit #8: Ability to Obtain Security Clearances
Law enforcement officers with good credit could gain privileged access to classified national security information and FBI facilities. Any state or local law enforcement officer seeking a security clearance has to first satisfy a comprehensive background check that includes a review of credit history. The FBI shares secret or top secret information with local law enforcement officers who have obtained security clearances.
Poor credit history would not necessarily disqualify an officer from obtaining a security clearance, but significant credit history issues “may prevent a clearance from being approved,” according to information posted on the FBI’s website.
Good credit is important for anyone who wishes to borrow money to help finance key purchases. Many consumers rely upon mortgages and loans to buy houses and cars, while many cash-strapped individuals turn to credit cards to buy essential goods and services ranging from food and electricity to water and rent for housing.
The eight benefits of good credit highlighted above showcase why it is critical to pay your bills on time and practice good budgeting. SoFi Insights is a money tracker app that allows you to monitor and keep track of your credit score, among other perks that could assist with financial planning and managing your net worth.
Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov
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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 .