Understanding the different credit score ranges
Credit scores can give lenders a general idea of how financially responsible you are. Anytime you need to borrow money—whether it’s buying a home, taking out a student loan or applying for a credit card—lenders might consider your credit scores.
You might have been told your credit scores need to be within a certain range to qualify for certain loans. Keep reading to learn why and to find out about the different credit score ranges.
- A credit score is a number that can help lenders make informed decisions about things like applications, credit limits and interest rates.
- The most common credit scores range from 300 to 850.
- That range breaks down into smaller ranges that you can use to gauge your credit health.
- Credit ranges can vary based on the scoring model used to determine them.
What is a credit score?
Credit scores are based on the information in your credit reports. They are three-digit numbers that lenders may use to determine your creditworthiness. A higher credit score can indicate to lenders that you’re at a lower risk of defaulting on payments.
Your credit scores are based on a few different factors, like your payment history, your credit history and how much current unpaid debt you carry across all your accounts, as well as which report supplied the information. They’re calculated differently by each credit-scoring company—like FICO® and VantageScore®—using complex formulas called scoring models. And because of this, you might have several different credit scores, even from the same scoring company. What counts as a good credit score also varies by scoring model.
What are the credit score ranges?
Credit-scoring companies like FICO and VantageScore run complex calculations to determine credit scores. The most common scoring models produce credit scores that range from 300 to 850, the highest credit score possible. Within that range, there are smaller number ranges—representing everything from a poor score to an excellent one—that you can use to gauge where your credit scores stand.
The ranges are similar for FICO and VantageScore, but not quite the same. And some scores range from 250 to 900. But generally, here’s how they stack up.
FICO credit scores range
FICO score ranges are calculated using a combination of data like payment history, total amounts owed, new credit and length of credit history. Here are the ranges according to FICO:
- Poor: Less than 580
- Fair: 580-669
- Good: 670-739
- Very Good: 740-799
- Exceptional: 800-850
VantageScore credit scores range
VantageScore—whose scoring models include VantageScore 3.0 and VantageScore 4.0—uses similar data points as FICO in calculating scores but weighs them differently. Here are the ranges according to VantageScore:
- Very Poor: 300-499
- Poor: 500-600
- Fair: 601-660
- Good: 661-780
- Excellent: 781-850
What do credit score ranges mean?
Decisions about loans and credit are ultimately up to lenders. But knowing which category you fall into can give you an idea of the types of credit cards and interest rates you might qualify for.
Here’s a general overview of score ranges and what they mean.
If you have a poor credit score—what might be considered a bad credit score—qualifying for new credit or getting a mortgage for a house might be more difficult. If you can qualify, you might not be able to get the most favorable loan terms.
FICO’s lowest category is Poor. VantageScore has Very Poor (300-499) and Poor (500-600) categories.
Having fair credit generally puts you near the middle of credit score ranges. It may give you more credit opportunities than poor credit, but improving your scores could help you get better terms.
FICO and VantageScore differ slightly on what counts as a fair credit score. FICO rates a Fair score between 580 and 669. VantageScore rates a Fair score between 601 and 660.
Having a good credit score can help you qualify for more financial products like home and auto loans and credit cards with better interest rates.
FICO breaks down the good credit range into Good (670-739) and Very Good (740-799). VantageScore rates Good between 661 and 780.
Some characteristics of borrowers with excellent credit scores include keeping their credit utilization ratio low and consistently making payments on time. Excellent credit can help you get the best rates and terms on premium credit cards and loans, mortgages and other lines of credit.
VantageScore rates any score from 781 to 850 as Excellent. FICO calls its highest range Exceptional, and that applies to any score between 800 and 850.
What is the average credit score?
As of 2022, the average FICO credit score in the U.S. was 714. The average VantageScore for the same year was 696.
Factors that affect your credit scores
Each credit-scoring model uses a handful of factors to determine credit scores. The factors are similar among the different models. But the importance of each factor might vary based on the version of the model or type of score. That means some factors are weighted more heavily than others. So it can be hard to pinpoint the impact of a single factor on your scores.
Here are some factors that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says make up a typical credit score.
- Payment history: Payment history can show how reliable a borrower is when it comes to repaying debt.
- Total amounts owed: This considers the amount of unpaid debt you have across all your accounts. It includes the credit utilization ratio. According to the CFPB, experts recommend keeping your credit utilization below 30% of your total available credit. A low credit utilization ratio could be a sign that you use credit responsibly.
- Credit age: If you’ve had credit accounts open for a long time, it can indicate that you’re a lower risk to creditors.
- Credit mix: Having a combination of credit accounts can show you have experience handling different types. It takes into account revolving credit like credit cards and lines of credit and installment loans like car loans and mortgages.
- New credit applications: When you apply for new credit, it triggers a hard credit inquiry, which can have a small negative effect on your credit scores. And if you open a lot of credit accounts in a short time, it can give lenders a negative impression. Soft credit inquiries, on the other hand, like the ones you might do yourself, don’t affect your credit score. Learn more about the difference between hard and soft credit checks.
Factors that don’t affect your credit score
Among the factors your credit scores don’t take into account are:
- Marital status
- Where you live
- Where you were born
- If you check your own credit reports and scores
How to check your credit scores
There are a few places you can go to view your credit scores, including your credit card issuer; credit bureaus like Experian®, Equifax® and TransUnion®; credit-scoring companies; and credit counselors.
CreditWise from Capital One lets you monitor your scores and report for free anytime, without hurting your credit scores. Plus, it’s free for everyone, even if you don’t have a Capital One credit card. You can also use the CreditWise Simulator to learn how your score might go up or down if you do things like open a new credit card, pay off a balance or increase your credit limit.
Credit score ranges in a nutshell
Your credit score range can give you an idea of your credit health. But you don’t necessarily need to achieve any particular milestone before you can be approved for a credit card. For example, Capital One has credit cards for people with fair credit scores.
And when used responsibly, by doing things like making payments on time each month, a credit card is a great tool to help you improve your credit.
We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.
Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information, or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.
Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. Your CreditWise score is a good measure of your overall credit health, but it is not likely to be the same score used by creditors. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.
CreditWise Alerts are based on changes to your TransUnion and Experian® credit reports and information we find on the dark web.
The CreditWise Simulator provides an estimate of your score change and does not guarantee how your score may change.