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BUILDING YOUR CREDIT

What’s a Good Credit Score?

Chances are that someday soon you’ll want to rent an apartment, buy a car, apply for a credit card or buy your own home. That’s when having a good credit score will matter.

A credit score is a number ranging from 300 to 850 that lenders use to determine whether or not you’re a good credit risk. The higher your score, the better your credit.

  • If your score is under 600, you’ll probably have trouble securing credit.
  • Scores between 600 and 700 may only allow for loans at high interest rates.
  • Scores of 700 and above are considered good to excellent, and increase the possibility of qualifying for a loan or credit card and of receiving a lower interest rate.

Credit scores are provided by the three main credit bureaus in the U.S. — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each bureau maintains its own record of the credit cards and loans that are open in your name, whether or not you pay your bills on time, what your monthly debt is, and other types of information that affect your creditworthiness.

While your credit score will vary somewhat from one credit bureau to the next, all three bureaus gather similar types of information to determine credit scores.

  • Past payment history — Your credit report will indicate whether you’re 30, 60 or 90 days or more late with a payment. A history of late payments on several accounts will cause more damage than late payments on a single account. Paying bills consistently on time will greatly improve your overall score.
  • Amounts owed — This category measures the amount you owe relative to the credit available to you by any given lender. For example, if you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit but owe considerably less than that on your card, it improves your chances of having a higher credit score.
  • Length of credit history — The longer you’ve had established credit, the better you’ll look in the eyes of a lender. But don’t open multiple new accounts in the hopes of building credit quickly. This reduces the “average account age” and will reduce your score. It’s best to open one account and use it to build credit.
  • Amount of new credit — Every time you apply for new credit, that inquiry becomes part of your credit report. Prospective lenders will notice if there have been too many inquiries on your report in a short span of time.
  • Types of credit — Credit cards and installment loans (like mortgages and car loans) represent different types of credit in the eyes of the credit bureaus. Having a balanced mix of well-managed types of credit can benefit your credit score.

To learn more about building and maintaining good credit, visit our Credit Wellness Center.

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