What is a good credit score and how to check it?
What is a good score?
Credit scores range from 300-850. The ratings as to a good/bad/poor score is a bit loose as it depends on who views it. A loan officer has his own standards when it comes to borrowing as to what is an acceptable risk. However to get a good idea the breakdown is as follows:
- 300-499 is bad credit score.
- 500-579 is poor credit score.
- 580-619 is a low credit score.
- 620-679 is an average credit score.
- 680-699 is a good credit score.
- 700-850 is a very good to excellent credit score.
When a loan officer looks at giving you a line of credit he or she also takes other factors into account so your score isn't the only determining factor. In most cases they will take into account your income, debt to income, average age of lines of trade, if you pay your debts on time, and how well you have handled any money loaned to you previously.
How to check your credit?
Every 12 months you are entitled to a free credit check by the three reporting agencies. You are also entitled to check your credit report for free if you are denied for a line of credit. If you are denied a line of credit you should receive a paper or email from the lender detailing why you were denied the line of credit and how to receive a copy of your report. The three agencies and their websites are:
- Experian (www.experian.com)
- TransUnion (www.transunion.com)
- Equifax (www.equifax.com)
It is a good idea to check your report from each agency as sometimes lenders do not report to all 3 agencies. This can cause your actual score to vary between the 3 agencies. You can check all 3 reports at once also by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. They act as a bridge to all 3 agencies to receive your once a year report from one place.
However if your like me I prefer to stay on top of my credit score and report. A good alternative is www.CreditKarma.com. This site allows you to check your report daily. They offer a good average of your score. I have checked my actual scores compared to what they show and only saw a few points difference. Therefore I find it a good way to have a good idea of what your score actually is. They offer a rather detailed report card which will show how you rank with others based on many different factors such as age of lines, debt to income, total debt, hard credit inquiries and more. They also offer a good calculator to simulate if you make any changes to your credit by adding a line of credit, paying off debt, etc... how it will affect your score. Another good thing about CreditKarma is they perform a soft check which will not affect your credit score as opposed to a hard check such as a lender checking. I personally check mine everyday as opposed to paying for an account with one of the credit bureau's services. It also serves as a good way to thwart any identity theft instead of paying for that type of service as well.
Staying on top of your credit report is the best way to help achieve and maintain a good credit score.