A credit score is an important part of the financial world. It can affect everything from employment to buying/renting a home. When looking at credit ratings, a person may be curious to know how their credit score stacks up against others. It is fairly simple to understand how a credit score works, and what the numbers mean. If a credit score is not where it needs to be it can be improved, and a good credit score can be maintained.
Understanding Credit Score
To figure out how your credit score stacks up, it is essential to know what credit scores mean. A credit score is a number that represents a person’s financial history, focusing on how they have borrowed, handled, and repaid back their loans or lines of credit. Credit lenders, landlords, and employers can all request to see a credit score and this number will show them the type of financial history a person has had. Here are the ranges for credit scores and what they mean.
- 850-800 is considered excellent
- 799-740 is considered great
- 739-670 is considered good
- 669-580 is considered fair
- 579-300 is considered poor
Most Americans have a credit score in the 600 range. It is best to try and stay around that average or higher. The good thing about a credit score is that if it is poor, it can be improved. If a person’s credit score is considered good or great, it can be maintained with similar steps.
How to Improve or Maintain a Credit Score
There are many steps that a person can take to improve or maintain a credit score. Here are a few actions that can be done that are good for a credit score:
- Pay off Debt ASAP- Paying off debt can have a good impact on credit. To pay off debt quickly it is important to pay more than the minimum due, paying extra attention to the amount of interest that is being paid. Many times the interest may equal the minimum amount due, not making any dent in debt. Generally, the sooner debt is paid back the less it will cost a person in the long run.
- Don’t Have More Credit than Necessary- Opening and using extra lines of credit can negatively impact a person’s credit score. In addition, adding more credit lines can add more unnecessary debt.
- Credit/Debt Ratio- This is an important part of a credit score. Often times many people do not even think about this. The credit to debit ratio is the amount of debt a person has to the amount of open credit/credit lines. To keep a credit/debt ratio balanced a person should do the following things:
- Keep Paid Credit Cards Open- Even after credit cards are paid off they should be left open, as closing them can increase your debt ratio.
- Keep in Contact with Credit Card Lenders- Sometimes lenders may decrease the amount of credit a person has without notifying the customer. This also can increase the debt ratio.
- Avoid Maxing Out Cards- This can be a fairly easy way to keep the debt to credit ratio balanced. It is best to try and avoid maxing out your credit cards and instead use your own money for expenses/purchases.
- Be Organized- Making payments on time for bills/loans/credit cards is extremely important when it comes to a credit score. Some people have automatic payments set up straight from their bank account to prevent missing payment dates.
What Can My Credit Report Tell Me about My Credit Score?
Many people may not be sure how a credit report impacts credit score. A credit report is similar to a credit score, but it does not have a number associated with it. Like a credit score, a credit report shows a person’s credit borrowing/repayment history. There are three major credit bureaus and credit reports can be requested from each of them. A credit report will not tell a person their credit score, but it can show a person how they can improve their score or maintain a good one.
What Does My Credit Score Effect?
There are many ways that a credit score can impact a person’s life. Here are a few things inside and outside of the financial world that a credit score can impact:
- Cost of Bills/Living- Having a good credit score can decrease the amount of interest on credit cards/loans and can even impact the amount bills cost per month.
- Employment-Nowadays many employers will check an applicant’s credit score to determine eligibility for a position.
- Finding a Home/ Renting a Place- Finding a place to live is difficult enough, and nowadays credit will impact eligibility for buying or renting a home.
A person looking at their credit score may be wondering how their credit score stacks up when compared to others. It is also important to know what a credit score is, what it can impact, and the ranges that it can fall into. Most Americans have a credit score averaging in the 600 range. People who don’t meet that range can take steps to improve their credit score. Looking at a credit report can also help maintain and/or improve a credit score.