What is a Good Credit Score
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When it comes to your credit, it’s important to know how you stack up. Do you have good credit? Excellent credit? Poor credit? How can you find out? In most cases, the easiest way to determine the health of your credit is to look at your credit score, a numerical value that reflects a mathematical analysis of your debt, your payment history, the existence of liens or other judgments, and other statistical data collected by the credit bureaus. In other words, your credit score is the compact, simplified version of your entire credit history, all rolled up into one tidy three-digit number.
Why Do You Need Good Credit?
The importance of having good credit can’t be understated. From helping you get a loan, to qualifying you for a great job, good credit simply makes life easier and less expensive.
In the eyes of lenders, employers, insurance agents, and a host of other people and entities, your credit score represents how responsible and even how ethical you are. For example, lenders look at your credit score to determine not only your ability, but your willingness to repay a loan. Insurance companies view an individual with a good credit score as someone who is trustworthy and less likely to commit insurance fraud. Employers look at credit scores as a way to determine whether a candidate will be a dependable new employee.
A bad score, however, can prevent you from being able to purchase a home, work in certain industries, and will wind up costing you a bundle in higher interest rates and fees. However, if you understand what hurts your credit score, you can make an effort to fix bad habits and improve your credit rating.
The Three Major Credit Agencies
Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
There are three major credit agencies that provide consumer credit information (including credit scores) to the majority of interested parties: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Each reporting agency collects information about your credit history from a variety of sources, including lenders, landlords, and employers, as well as other sources. These includes public records, current and past loans, your payment history, and other data. They then rate your performance using a proprietary scoring system to come up with a credit score.
Because each agency may access different information and has its own formula for calculating your creditworthiness, it is not uncommon for someone to have three different credit scores.
Understanding Credit Scores
Your credit score is a three-digit number that, without context, may mean very little to you. Here is a breakdown of how lenders, insurance agencies, and employers all view your credit score:
Excellent Credit: Credit Score Above 800
If your credit score is above 800, you have an exceptionally long credit history that is unmarred by things such as late payments, collections accounts, liens, judgments, or bankruptcies. Not only do you have multiple established lines of credit, but you have or have had experience with several different types of credit, including installment loans and revolving lines of credit. You generally have a stable work history, usually with one company. More at What Is a Good Credit Score – Understanding Credit Ratings & Ranges