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Credit scores are bucketed into different ranges, which lenders, banks, and employers use to determine your creditworthiness.
The credit score ranges are:
- Excellent: 800-850
- Very Good: 740-799
- Good: 670-739
- Fair: 580-669
- Poor: 300-579
If you are stuck in a lower range, you may not qualify for top-tier credit cards (with big sign-up bonuses), low interest rates on your car or home, or you might even be disqualified from a job. We’ll cover the details of how the credit score ranges are determined, the difference between your VantageScore and FICO score, and how you can improve you score and climb into a higher credit score range.
- Credit score ranges vary slightly based on the credit score brand and model
- FICO and VantageScore are the most common credit scores, with about 90% of lenders using FICO scores
- FICO credit score ranges are broken into five categories: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor
- A good credit score is between 670 and 739 in the FICO score model and between 661 and 780 with VantageScore
FICO vs. VantageScore: What are the differences?
If you’re looking at a credit score in the United States, there’s a good chance that it is either a FICO score or a VantageScore. These two credit scores are the most common, with about 90% of the top lenders using a FICO score.
While the scores were originally very different with totally unique credit score ranges, FICO and VantageScore have a lot in common now. Both credit score models use a credit score range of 300 to 850 to show how reliable a borrower is.
Similar factors also shape your credit score, whether it is a FICO score or a VantageScore. Both credit score brands look at credit utilization, payment history, account types, and age of your accounts.
However, VantageScores are sometimes more favorable for people who are just getting started building their credit. With a VantageScore, the age of your account doesn’t matter, as long as you have one credit account open. In order to have a FICO score, though, you need to have an account that is at least six months old.
What are the credit score ranges?
Are you wondering if you have good credit? Maybe you’re curious what the credit score ranges are. Then, you need to keep in mind that the answer depends on who you ask.
How can that be? Credit scores are actually calculated in several different ways using different methods. That can be confusing, especially if you just want to know if you have good credit…or not.
The good news is that there are two main credit scoring models, and they both have similar credit score ranges. Generally speaking, credit scores are divided into categories including excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common credit score ranges for the FICO model:
If your credit score falls in the 800-850 range, you have excellent credit.
Typically, credit scores between 740 and 799 are considered very good.
With a credit score in the range of 670 to 739, you are considered to have good credit.
A fair credit score is a score that falls in the 580-669 range.
A credit score below 580 is considered poor credit or subprime credit.
Why does my VantageScore look different?
The VantageScore model used to be dramatically different from the FICO model. However, the more recent versions of the VantageScore mean the numbers are more similar than different.
VantageScore 4.0 still uses five different credit card ranges. The most notable difference is that it actually includes poor and very poor categories.
To be in the credit card range of poor, your credit score is in the 500 to 600 range. The very poor category starts below 500.
The full VantageScore credit score ranges are listed below:
- Excellent: 781-850
- Good: 661-780
- Fair: 601-660
- Poor: 500-600
- Very Poor: 300-499
How do I move to higher credit score ranges?
Now that you know what the credit score ranges are, you might be wondering how you can improve your credit score.
There are several strategies you can use to move from one credit score range to the next.
Move your due date
You can’t always adjust your billing due date, but in many cases, you can! By strategically planning your due dates to coincide with your paychecks, you can make sure that there is money in your account when your bills need to be paid.
Sign up for autopay
Your payment history is the most significant factor in your credit score. While you simply have to let time work its magic to grow the age of your accounts, you can make sure you make your payments on time. The easiest way to do that is to enroll in autopay. That way, your payment history stays spotless and you don’t have to worry about remembering whether or not a bill got paid.
Put it on the calendar
After you adjust your bill due date, put it on a calendar. You can use an app or a planner. Stick with whatever calendar system you use to organize your day-to-day life.
What if you are enrolled in autopay? You still want to schedule regular check ins with your bills and your budget. The one flaw to autopay is that it sometimes lets people adopt an “ignorance is bliss” approach. If you don’t regularly check in with your bills and review your spending, it’s very easy to let impulse purchases crop up. You want to pay your bills on time and you want to make sure that your spending aligns with your values.
Pay down debt
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s actually really important to remember that the best way to move to higher credit score ranges is to manage debt better. If you can pay off your debt, you should! There’s a long-believed myth that carrying a small balance is better for your credit score. That’s simply untrue. All that does is rack up more interest charges and benefit the lender, not you.
Check your credit regularly
There are tools like Credit Karma that allow you to check your credit score for free regularly. Additionally, many of the banking tools you already use may offer free credit score monitoring.
You can also use annualcreditreport.com to pull an official credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year.
Report errors on your credit report
When you pull your credit report each year, you want to make note of any errors that you see. It feels like a hassle to have to report them, but it’s worth it! Having errors removed from the credit report can catapult you into higher credit score ranges.
To get started, you file a dispute with the particular credit reporting company. So if there is an error on your Equifax report, follow the directions on the Equifax website to correct the error. Typically, you will have to make note of the error in writing and provide documentation to prove your dispute. The process isn’t nearly as cumbersome as it might sound, and you can find a lot of support on the websites of each credit bureau.
Credit Score Ranges FAQ
To help you get a better sense of what the different credit score ranges mean, we gathered answers to some of the most commonly asked questions!
What is a good credit score?
A good credit score usually starts around a score of 700. Of course, credit scores vary a bit based on the scoring model and who is calculating your score.
The FICO model uses a range of 670 to 739 to indicate someone has a good credit score.
What is subprime credit?
To understand subprime credit, it helps to know what prime credit is. Having a prime credit score gives you access to prime lending options, or the best lending options. That means your interest rate and other terms are more favorable.
Someone with subprime credit doesn’t have a credit score that is high enough to qualify as a prime credit score. Subprime borrowers are considered to be riskier borrowers, which often results in a subprime lending option.
If you use the FICO model, a prime credit score generally starts around 670. That means a credit score below 670 will usually be flagged as subprime.
What does it mean to have no credit?
There’s good and bad, prime and subprime. With all the different credit score range labels, it might surprise you to know that it’s also possible to have no credit.
Credit scores are calculated in part based on your credit history. That means you have to have credit accounts and they have to be open for a certain period of time. Someone who does not have credit either doesn’t have any qualifying accounts that are currently open or they were opened so recently, they haven’t established a formal credit history. With a very limited credit history, there is no means to calculate a credit score. Therefore, lenders will label someone as having no credit.
How are credit scores calculated?
Credit scores are calculated based on a variety of factors. While it may make them seem a bit mysterious to know that there is some variation based on who is doing the number crunching, it helps to understand that there are some common credit score factors.
The factors that have the biggest impact on your credit score include:
- Payment history
- Current amount of debt
- Length of your credit history
- Mix of account types
- New accounts
Of all the factors that impact your credit score, your payment history makes up the largest percentage. That’s why it’s so important to understand what payment history means.
To get a more detailed look at how credit scores are calculated, check out our credit score calculation post!