What is your credit score? The answer to that question can substantially affect the quality of your life. Your credit score can determine what interest rate you get on loans, whether someone rents you an apartment, if you get better insurance rates, and, in some cases, whether a company hires you.
It’s Just Business
Businesses are money-making entities and they try to limit risk as much as possible. Businesses know that, generally, a person with good credit poses less risk and creates less work and expenditure of resources for the company. So, they’re willing to reward people who have good credit scores with lower rates, lower fees or no fees at all, preferred insurance rates, etc.
FICO scores range from 300-850. As of April 2019, only 1.6% of the U.S. Population had a perfect score. FICO says getting the best credit terms doesn’t mean you have to have a perfect score, but it needs to fall into a range.
Each lender determines the score cutoff they require to approve a request for credit and to help them set the terms (interest rate, credit line, etc.) of the credit being extended. Typically, most lenders do not require an individual to have an 850 FICO® Score to secure the best loan features. Instead, they set a high-end cutoff (typically in the upper 700’s) where those applicants scoring above that cutoff get these most favorable terms.
There are some common characteristics among people with 850 FICO scores:
- They generally don’t have missed payments, collections, or derogatory information on their record. Payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score.
- They have and use credit. They don’t feel the need to have zero credit debt.
- The amount of their credit debt is very low. On average, they only use 4.1% of the credit available to them.
- They have a very established credit history with the average age of their oldest account being 30 years old.
- They are not opposed to opening new credit. About 10% had one or more credit inquiries in the past year and about 25% opened one or more new credit accounts in the previous 12 months.
If you’re not in that tier of people with a good credit score, you can move in that direction by paying your bills on time, keeping your credit card balances low, and only applying for credit when you need it.
One other thing to keep in mind, watch your credit report. Errors happen. If a creditor reports negative or inaccurate information to the credit bureaus, it can damage your score. The responsibility for correcting the information is yours and it can be a lengthy, frustrating process that wears you out. Consider hiring a credit protection service now. If bad information shows up on your credit report, the company will work on your behalf to remove the inaccurate information. Protection services usually will not correct bad information that went on your record before you hired them.
This article is presented as information only and should not be considered financial, tax or legal advice.