What is a good credit score for a college student?

Your credit score is a number used to predict how likely you are to pay back a loan on time. A higher number generally means that you’re a safer bet for lenders. But if you’re a student just starting out with no—or poor—credit, you’re not alone. 

Here’s what you should know about good credit scores, why credit is so important, and how to establish good credit when you’re in school.

What’s considered a good credit score

There are multiple credit scoring systems, so a good credit score varies slightly for each. 

When talking about the commonly used FICO® scoring system, scores between 670 and 739 are considered good.

FICO credit score ranges are: Exceptional: 800 and above, Very Good: 740-799, Good: 670-739, Fair: 580-669, and Poor: Under 580.

Source: MyFICO.com

When it comes to VantageScore®, scores between 661 and 780 can be considered good.

Excellent: 781-850, Good: 661-780, Fair: 601-660, Poor: 500-600, and Very Poor: 300-499.

Source: VantageScore.com

Having a good credit score is usually associated with being approved for a credit card or a loan. But it can impact much more than that. Good scores can affect interest rates, credit limits, housing applications and sometimes even job prospects. 

Factors that affect credit scores

So what makes up a credit score? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says these typically factor in:

  • Payment history: Whether you pay your bills on time—and in full—is critical. 
  • Credit utilization: This is the ratio of how much of your available credit you’re using compared with how much you have available. The CFPB recommends keeping your credit utilization ratio at no more than 30%.
  • Loans: This can also be referred to as your credit mix. It includes how many loans you have and what kinds they are, such as revolving credit accounts and installment loans
  • Length of credit history: Credit scores are built over time. So the more history your credit report shows, the more information lenders have to determine whether you’d be a good credit recipient. 
  • New credit applications: Applying for new credit accounts can have a minor impact on your score. But a lot of new hard credit inquiries can still give a negative impression to lenders.

How to build credit as a student

As a student, you might have limited flexibility when it comes to finances. But it’s still possible to build credit in college, and these tips from the CFPB can help:

  • Pay your bills on time: A history of timely payments is an important part of your credit score. Setting up automatic payments or electronic reminders can help you make payments on time.
  • Stay well below your credit limits: Remember, the CFPB recommends keeping your credit use below 30% across your credit card accounts.
  • Use your card responsibly: Using credit cards responsibly over time can have a significant positive impact on your credit score.
  • Check your credit reports: Checking your reports regularly lets you check the accuracy of information and spot errors. You can get free copies of your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to learn more.

Keep your credit going strong

 If you’re ready to start building your credit with responsible use, you might consider a student credit card from Capital One

Plus, a tool like CreditWise from Capital One lets you keep an eye on your VantageScore 3.0 credit score and TransUnion® credit report. You can access CreditWise from your desktop or your phone, so you have it at your fingertips. Using it won’t hurt your score. And it’s free for everyone, not just Capital One customers.

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With responsible use, students can earn cash back rewards today while building credit for tomorrow.

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