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What Is a Good Credit Score?

5 min read
Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Updated Aug 03, 2020

Your credit scores are important. They indicate how risky you are as a borrower of money (i.e., how likely you are to pay your bills). The most common scores range from 300–850.

So what’s a “good” credit score?

A good credit score typically refers to a score of at least 670 with FICO, or at least 700 with VantageScore (these are the two most popular scoring models).

Having good credit means you’re a low credit risk, and will usually get the best offers for credit cards, loans, and other financial products — that translates to better rewards and benefits, lower interest rates, and low (or no) upfront deposits, among other perks. The higher your scores, the better.

But there’s a bit more to it than that — we’ll explore the differences between FICO and VantageScore, why you should want good credit, and how to achieve good credit scores.

What Is a Good FICO Score?

There are two “good” ranges when it comes to FICO Credit Scores:

  • Good: 670–739
  • Very Good: 740–799

Here’s what FICO has to say on the subject: “In general, many lenders find scores above 670 as indicating good creditworthiness. Typically, the higher your score, the lower the risk and the more likely creditors are to lend to you.”

And here’s a full breakdown of the basic FICO score range, with descriptions from FICO:

Base FICO Score Ranges
Rating Range Description
Exceptional 800–850 Your score is well above the average score of U.S. consumers and clearly demonstrates to lenders that you are an exceptional borrower.
Very Good 740–799 Your score is above the average of U.S. consumers and demonstrates to lenders that you are a very dependable borrower.
Good 670–739 Your score is near or slightly above the average of U.S. consumers and most lenders consider this a good score.
Fair 580–669 Your score is below the average score of U.S. consumers, though many lenders will approve loans with this score.
Poor 300–579 Your score is well below the average score of U.S. consumers and demonstrates to lenders that you are a risky borrower.
Insider tip

Credit scores are calculated based on the information in your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Although popular FICO and VantageScore models use a range of 300–850, some scoring models may use other ranges, so you may see different score ratings depending on where you look (there are a lot of different credit scores out there).

What Is a Good VantageScore?

There’s just one “good” credit score range for VantageScore 3.0:

  • Good: 700–749

There are some important differences between FICO and VantageScore. They may weigh certain credit factors differently, like payment history or credit utilization, or look at different information on credit reports. But in general, if your VantageScore credit scores are going up or down, you can assume the same is happening with your FICO scores (and vice versa).

The full range of VantageScore 3.0 credit scores looks like this, with range descriptions from Experian:

VantageScore 3.0 Ranges
Rating Range Description
Excellent 750–850 Applicants most likely to receive the best rates and most favorable terms on credit accounts.
Good 700–749 Applicants likely to be approved for credit at competitive rates.
Fair 650–699 Applicants may be approved for credit but likely not at competitive rates.
Poor 550–649 Applicants may be approved for some credit, though rates may be unfavorable and with conditions such as larger down payment amounts.
Very Poor 300–549 Applicants will not likely be approved for credit.

What Can a Good Credit Score Do for You?

Credit scores help lenders (like credit card issuers) make decisions about who they should lend to, how much to lend, and what terms they should offer.

Having good credit isn’t just about bragging rights, or getting approved for the best credit cards — it can literally make your life less expensive by reducing your interest rates and letting you qualify for cost-saving financial products, and may even affect your ability to get a new apartment or cell phone plan.

Compared to bad credit scores, good credit scores can give you access to:

  • Unsecured credit cards with excellent rewards and benefits, rather than secured credit cards which require a deposit
  • Credit cards with 0% purchase APRs, giving you time to pay off new purchases without accruing interest
  • Great balance transfer offers to help reduce your interest payments
  • Mortgages, auto loans, and leases with good terms
  • Lower interest rates on loans and credit cards
  • Lower down payments for loans (or none at all)
  • Cell phone service plans, apartment rentals, lower insurance rates (in some cases)
  • Backup sources of funding in an emergency

With good credit (and lower interest rates), you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars over the life of a loan compared to someone with bad credit.

Insider tip

When you submit an application for a loan or credit card, the lender won’t just look at your credit scores — it will look at your overall creditworthiness. Certain items on your credit reports, like public records, may raise red flags which could affect your approval odds. Lenders often also look at factors like income and your capacity to pay.

How Do You Get a Good Credit Score?

It’s not hard to get good credit scores. But it’s not hard to tank your credit scores, either.

The most important thing is to pay your bills on time, every time. Do this consistently and you’ll likely have few credit problems, if any.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you should do and what you shouldn’t do to improve your credit scores:

  • Pay your bills on time each month to avoid late payments.
  • Pay off your debts as quickly as you can.
  • Have different types of credit on your credit reports (credit cards, loans, etc.).
  • Monitor your credit scores and credit reports to see how they change over time, and to catch any issues.
  • Don’t max out your credit cards; try to end the statement period with a relatively low balance compared to your credit limit.
  • Don’t apply for too much new credit in too short a time (hard credit inquiries can have a relatively small negative impact on your scores).
  • Don’t close out credit cards unless you have a good reason, like an annual fee that’s no longer worth it or repeated problems with the issuer.

The different credit scoring models and brands will weigh factors differently, but if you follow those guidelines you’ll always be in good shape.

FICO, for example, uses the following for its basic score calculation:

What’s In Your Credit Score?

This chart shows the criteria used to create FICO scores and their relative importance in your credit score.

Insider tip

Although we typically recommend paying your full statement balance each month, if you have a card with a 0% APR you can pay off your credit card balance over time without being charged interest, and this can be a good strategy to give yourself some breathing room. Just take the time to understand how carrying a balance will affect your credit utilization, and be sure to always make your minimum payments to avoid being late.

How Do I Check My Credit Scores?

These days, it’s pretty simple to check your credit scores completely for free.

We’ve got a comprehensive listing of free credit score providers right here; our favorites include:

  • Discover’s Credit Scorecard: FICO Score 8 based on your TransUnion or Experian credit report; available to anyone
  • Capital One’s CreditWise: VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report; available to anyone
  • Chase’s Credit Journey: VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report; available to anyone
  • Credit Karma: VantageScore 3.0 scores based on your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports; available to anyone

Many credit card issuers offer a free score to cardholders, and in some cases you don’t even need to be a cardholder. And there are other services that provide free scores, too. Sometimes you’ll find FICO scores on offer, while others provide VantageScores, but you can use either brand to keep an eye on your credit.

We recommend checking your credit history and credit scores from each of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) so you can spot any differences. With a bit of work, you can sign up for a variety of services to cover all your bases.

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At a glance

A “good” credit score typically means a score of at least 670 with FICO, or at least 700 with VantageScore. Having good credit scores can save you money in the long run, and will give you access to the best credit cards and loans, with low interest rates and high-end perks.

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