Where does my credit score start?

Credit & debt

Your credit score gives potential lenders an idea of how likely you are to make debt payments. If your credit score is low, it suggests that you may not be able to make debt payments on time. If your credit score is high, it shows that you’ve made regular payments in the past and managed your debt well.

What is your credit score based on? Does it start at zero? Where can you see your credit score?

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • What’s the difference between your credit report and credit score?
  • What does your credit score start at?
  • What is the range for credit scores?
  • What makes up your credit score?
  • Where can you find your credit score?
  • Oportun: Affordable lending options designed with you in mind
Key takeaways:

  • The credit scoring model most commonly used in the United States is the FICO® scoring model. In this model, credit scores run from 300 to 850, and can be poor, fair, good, very good, or exceptional.
  • The average FICO credit score in the United States falls in the “good” range.
  • FICO bases your credit score on your payment history, your current debt, the length of your credit history, your new credit, and your credit mix.
  • You can view your credit reports for free once a year through com. However, your credit reports do not usually contain your credit score. You may have to pay money to see your actual credit score.

What’s the difference between your credit report and credit score?

Your credit report is a written or digital record containing the details of your past and present credit use. Each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—compiles its own credit report.

Your credit score is a three-digit number based on this information. It gives businesses, like lenders and credit card issuers, an idea of how likely you are to make payments on time.

What’s the difference between a credit report and a credit score?

Your credit report shows information about your credit activity, including credit accounts, balances, and payment history.

Your credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that gives businesses an idea of how likely you are to make payments on time. Your credit score is calculated based on the information in your credit report.

What does your credit score start at?

The credit scoring model most commonly used in the United States is FICO. In the FICO model, the lowest possible credit score is 300, but your score doesn’t necessarily start there. The truth is that there’s no single starting credit score—where you “start” depends on your actions when you begin using credit.

When you first start using credit, you won’t have a FICO score for at least the first six months. If you make all your payments on time, within about six months you should begin building the positive credit history that will help you earn a good credit score. If you’re late making payments or max out a credit card right away, you’ll start with a lower credit score.

What is the range for credit scores?

FICO credit scores range from a minimum of 300 to a maximum of 850. Most people’s credit scores fall somewhere in the middle of this range.

FICO rates credit scores like this:

  • 300 – 579. Poor
  • 580 – 669. Fair
  • 670 – 739. Good
  • 740 – 799. Very good
  • 800 – 850. Exceptional

The average FICO credit score in the United States falls in the “good” range.

What makes up your credit score?

Here are the five main factors that go into determining your credit score, along with the percentage that each one counts for.

Payment history (35 percent)

One of the first things lenders want to know about you is whether you can make payments on time. That’s why your payment history is the most important part of your credit score. In the FICO model, it counts for 35 percent.

Have you made your debt payments reliably, on time, each month? If you miss payments or are late in making them, your credit score can start to drop quickly.

Current debt (30 percent)

Your credit score also takes into consideration how much money you currently owe. Ideally, you want to keep your debt low compared to your income and the amount of credit you have available.

Length of credit history (15 percent)

Lenders also want to see how well you’ve handled debt over time. That’s why your credit score looks at:

  • Your oldest credit account
  • The average length of all your credit accounts
  • How long you’ve had each account

When you first start using credit, of course, you won’t have a long credit history. You’ll need to build that history slowly and steadily, by making all your payments on time and managing your debt responsibly.

New credit (10 percent)

New credit refers to credit accounts you have recently opened and any hard inquiries made into your credit. Hard inquiries take place when you apply for new credit. They may lower your credit score temporarily by a few points because they indicate that you plan to take on more debt.

Credit mix (10 percent)

Another thing lenders like to see is a mix of different types of credit. This tells them that you can manage, for example, car payments, mortgage payments, and credit card payments all at the same time.

But that doesn’t mean that you should take on more debt just for the sake of your credit score. Over time, your credit mix will naturally increase as your financial needs grow and change.

Where can you find your credit score?

Your credit reports, available for free once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com, do not normally contain your credit score. Fortunately, there are other ways to view your credit score.

Ask the credit bureaus

You can request your credit score directly from any of the major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Check their websites to see if you will be charged a fee for this service. You may be offered additional services such as identity theft monitoring at the same time.

Use a credit score service

Some other websites offer to show you your credit score if you sign up for an account with them. But keep in mind that if you don’t cancel before the free trial period runs out, you may end up paying for a monthly service.

Check with your bank or lender

Many banks and lenders are currently allow customers to view their credit scores for free. If your bank or lender offers this service, it will likely be listed on your monthly statement or your online account.

If you’re planning to take out a new credit card or loan, you may want to look for one that provides access to your credit score as part of its services. That way you can see all your hard work pay off.

Oportun: Affordable lending options designed with you in mind

Now that you understand where credit scores come from, you can learn about how Oportun may be able to help you if you’re looking for affordable credit options.  Visit our homepage to learn about:

  • Personal loans
  • Credit cards
  • Secured personal loans
  • And more!

 

Sources

Experian. Does your credit score start at zero?

Experian. What is the average credit score in the U.S.?

FICO. What are the minimum requirements for a FICO score?

FICO. What’s in my FICO scores?

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. What’s a credit inquiry?

 

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