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7 min read Sep 04, 2023

The Magic Number: Understanding What Makes A Good Credit Score

Your credit score is determined by evaluating your payment history, the amount of debt you have, and the length of your credit history.

Let’s find out the factors associated with a good credit score.

Key Takeaways

  • What is a Credit Score Range: A credit score is a three digit number, ranging from 300 to 850. It is computed by analyzing data in your credit report, which encompasses your payment track record, your debt, and your credit history.
  • Scoring Metrics: FICO and VantageScore are two scoring models that the lenders use to assess your financial health.
  • Good Credit Score to Buy a House: The credit score needed to buy a house can vary from 500 to 700, contingent on both the type of mortgage loan you’re applying for and your chosen lender.

What is a Good Credit Score?

A good credit score refers to a numerical representation of an individual’s creditworthiness. It measures how likely the borrowers are to repay the borrowed money or fulfill their financial obligations.

A higher credit score indicates a lower risk for mortgage brokers and demonstrates responsible credit management. It increases the likelihood of obtaining loans, credit cards, and favorable interest rates.

Understanding Different Credit Score Models

Lenders use credit scores as a tool to make lending decisions, with FICO and VantageScore producing various credit scoring models for them. Both companies regularly introduce new versions of their credit score models.

Over the years, both credit-scoring models have undergone changes, leading to the creation of multiple versions for each.

It’s important for you to understand how their ranging mechanism is different from each other:


FICO produces two categories of scores, namely, base scores and industry-specific scores. Its base scores predict a consumer’s capacity to repay debt by considering their comprehensive credit history, spanning from 300 to 850.

Industry-specific scores, on the other hand, forecast a borrower’s ability to repay a particular type of debt, such as an auto loan or mortgage, with a range from 250 to 900.


The VantageScore model exclusively computes base scores and does not produce industry-specific scores. When it was initially introduced in 2006, the scoring model had a scale extending from 501 to 990.

However, this range shifted with the release of VantageScore 3.0, which now spans from 300 to 850. This pattern continues with VantageScore 4.0, simplifying the comparison of consumers.

What is a Good FICO Score?

A good FICO Score should be in the range of 670 to 850. The lenders use FICO Scores to assess an individual’s creditworthiness.

See the graph below to know what a good credit score range is:

Good FICO® Score Graph

A higher FICO Score indicates a lower credit risk and better chances of obtaining credit at favorable terms. However, it’s important to note that the definition of a good FICO Score may vary depending on the specific lender or industry.

Generally, scores above 700 are excellent, while scores below 580 are poor. It’s advisable to strive for a higher FICO score to improve your financial opportunities and access better credit options.

What is a Good Vantage Credit Score?

A good VantageScore should be in the range of 601 to 850. Here is a graph to illustrate the different credit score ranges:

Similar to the FICO Score, a higher VantageScore indicates a lower credit risk and improves credibility. However, it’s important to note that the definition of a good VantageScore may vary among lenders and industries.

You should aim for a higher Vantage Score to enhance your financial opportunities.

What Factors Affect Your Credit Score?

Several factors can significantly impact your credit score. Understanding these factors is crucial for maintaining and improving your creditworthiness. Here are the key elements:

  1. Payment History: Your payment history has the most significant impact on your credit score. It includes whether you pay your bills on time, any late payments, or bankruptcies.
  2. Credit Utilization: Credit utilization refers to the percentage of your available credit that you’re currently using. Keeping your credit utilization low, ideally below 30%, demonstrates responsible credit management.
  3. Credit History Length: The length of your credit history is another crucial factor. A longer credit history provides more data for lenders to assess your creditworthiness. It includes the age of your oldest account, its average age, and the time of most recent account activity.
  4. Credit Mix: Lenders prefer to see a diverse mix of credit types, such as credit cards, loans (e.g., auto loans, mortgages), and lines of credit. Having a well-rounded credit portfolio can positively impact your score.
  5. New Credit Applications: Applying for new credit can temporarily lower your credit score. It’s advisable to limit the number of new credit applications within a short period.
  6. Public Records and Collections: Negative public records, such as bankruptcies, tax liens, or civil judgments, can significantly impact your credit score.

It’s important to note that different credit scoring models, such as FICO Score and VantageScore, may weigh these factors differently.

However, overall, these elements provide a comprehensive overview of the key factors that influence your credit score.

What Is A Good Credit Score To Buy A House

Aim for a FICO score of 670 or higher to improve your chances of mortgage approval and qualify for a lower interest rate. The credit score required to purchase a house can vary between 500 and 700, depending on the mortgage loan type you’re seeking and the lender you choose.

To purchase a house with a conventional loan, most lenders typically demand a minimum credit score of 620. Other types of loans require a different credit score for approval:

  • For FHA home loans, you usually need a credit score of at least 500 when making a 10% down payment or 580 when making a 3.5% down payment.
  • USDA loans do not establish a specific credit score requirement, though lenders generally ask for a minimum score of 580.
  • VA loans also don’t specify a fixed minimum credit score, lenders commonly ask for a score of 620 or higher.

How To Improve Your Credit Score?

Achieving and maintaining a good credit score requires consistent effort and responsible financial habits. Here are some steps you can take to improve your credit score:

  • Pay bills on time: Timely payments are crucial for a good credit score. Late payments can harm your score, so make sure to pay credit card bills, loans, and other obligations by their due dates.
  • Keep credit card balances low: Maintaining low balances in relation to your credit limits can positively impact your score. Aim for a credit utilization ratio below 30% to show responsible credit usage.
  • Establish credit history: Building a credit history is essential. If you’re new to credit, open a credit card or get a small loan and make regular payments to start building a positive credit history.
  • Monitor credit reports: Regularly check your credit reports for accuracy and identify any errors. Inaccurate reporting can harm your score, so address them promptly.
  • Limit credit applications: Applying for multiple credit cards or loans within a short period can lower your score. Limit applications to only necessary ones and be mindful of the potential impact on your credit.

Remember, improving your credit score is a gradual process. By adopting these habits, you can work towards achieving and maintaining a good credit score over time.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, a good credit score is crucial for financial stability. It opens doors to favorable interest rates, higher credit limits, and loan approvals.

By practicing responsible credit habits, such as paying bills on time and managing credit utilization you can achieve and maintain a good credit score. Moreover, you can unlock a world of financial opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to get a good credit score?

The timeline for building good credit varies depending on your starting point and the challenges you encounter, but it's unlikely that you'll achieve it overnight.

2. How do I find out what my credit scores are?

You can obtain your scores directly from Equifax and TransUnion. Additionally, you have the right to receive free annual credit reports from them.

3. How to get a 850 credit score?

According to FICO, nearly 98% of individuals classified as "FICO High Achievers" have a perfect track record with no missed payments. Among the remaining 2%, those who did have missed payments had, on average, experienced the missed payment about four years ago. Therefore, maintaining a consistent record of timely payments is the sole path toward eventually achieving an 850 credit score.


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