Credit Score Ranges Basics – How Does It Work

Last Updated: June 5, 2019
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When it comes to the scores you should be paying attention to most, they are FICO and VantageScore, ranged between 300 and 850. How does it work, what are the difference between them and which impact the score has on your credit? We've summarized all you need to know.

It’s always a good idea to check your credit score, but it can be difficult to understand the different ones available. The truth is you can actually ask for a copy of your credit score from each of the credit reporting bureaus and you may find that they’re actually different. When it comes to the scores you should be paying attention to most, they are FICO and VantageScore, ranged between 300 and 850. But you’ll find that there are a number of different variations of this too.

Is it Important?

In general, your credit scores are going to let any lender know more about you and what kind of risk you’re going to be when it comes to paying your debt. If you have a higher score you appear to be a lower risk.

Now, it can be difficult to know what’s going on with your score because there are so many, but they’re extremely important for your to understand because of the weight lenders put on them.

Ranges on Your Credit Score

Credit ScoreRating Impact
300 – 579Very PoorThis type of credit score could be a result of many types of negative actions like defaults, bankruptcy and more. For these types of credit applicants, it can be more difficult to get credit at all or it may require you to have a deposit of some type.
580 – 669FairHere you may have a few minor problems on your credit but it’s in general, not a big problem. You might get credit, in fact you’re likely to get credit, but you’re going to have a higher interest rate and you’ll be considered subprime.
670 – 739GoodThis is where most people are going to fall and while you’re going to get some of the better rates, you’re not going to get the best and you’re not going to qualify for all types of credit.
740 – 799Very GoodHere you’re going to have people who pay nearly all their bills on time and keep their credit balances low. You’re going to get some of the best interest rates but not the best of the best.
800 – 850ExceptionalThese are the people who can get absolutely any type of credit and they can definitely get the top of the line rates for the credit that they want.

Your FICO Score

When it comes to FICO Scores, from the Fair Isaac Corporation, you’ll have a range between 300 and 850. This is the one that’s used by a lot of different lenders and the usual optimum level is over 670.

This will be considered a pretty good credit score, though you’re going to need an 800 in order to get to exceptional levels.

credit score range

Your VantageScore Score

This is another set of credit scores that a lot of lenders use. Designed by all three of the credit bureaus in conjunction, the newest version is the VantageScore 3.0 model.

It ranges between 300 and 850, just like the FICO score, but here you’re going to look for a score of at least 700.

A 700 score is a good one and a 750 is an excellent score. It’s important to note that the earlier version of the score ranged between 501 and 990 and gave letter grades from A to F.

Finding Your Score

If you’re looking for your FICO score you can actually purchase it directly from myFICO.com, though you can get a free copy with your monthly statement from several different credit card companies. These can include Discover, First National Bank of Omaha and Barclaycards.

If you’re looking for your VantageScore you can actually get it for free using a range of different websites. You won’t get it with any kind of credit card though so you’ll either need to sign up for one of these or you can purchase directly from Experian or TransUnion.

The Differences to Consider

You’ll find that differences in these two scores are based on the criteria that’s used for scoring and of course the way they weigh out the behaviors that you may (or may not) participate in.

Data that is too thin or even too stale could mean that you don’t have a FICO score at all. You may be among the 28 million consumers that don’t have one, because you’re going to need at least a single trade line for at least 6 months in order to get a score at all. On top of that, you’re going to have to have something that changes on your report within the last 6 months.

When it comes to your VantageScore you can actually get a credit score in just one month of activity.

You’ll generally find that even those who don’t use their credit accounts will have a VantageScore because it looks at a total of 24 months’ worth of credit history.

Next up, the industry-specific score models from FICO contrast with the range of categories that VantageScore evaluates.

You may get any kind of credit score when it comes to pulling a free or paid score. You could end up with the VantageScore, the FICO score or something else entirely, and that may not be the score that a credit lender is going to pull.

What Else Is Seen?

Keep in mind that your credit score is not the only thing that lenders are going to pay attention to when it comes to setting your interest rate and approving you.

When it does come to your credit score, lenders look at your history so they can figure out whether or not you will repay the money that you’re given. Even someone who has a lot of debt could still keep their bills paid right and make sure that they have a great score.

Outside of your credit score, your income and your debts are extremely important. Lenders look at the amounts that you owe, the amount that you earn and the assets that you have.

When it comes to your credit report, however, it won’t tell the lender if you’re able to pay off your debt. That’s why they want to take a look at even more about your debts and your income. It also lets them know your debt-to-income ratio to figure out if you can pay that debt back.