The three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) have similar explanations for what constitutes a poor, fair, good, very good, or excellent credit score. However, their credit score ranges for each of these tiers vary by up to about 20 points. Good credit scores are generally considered to be in the range of about 660 to 720 or a bit higher.
A good credit score indicates lenders and creditors that a borrower will repay their debt in a timely and responsible way. Typically, lenders and creditors are more likely to grant application approval to consumers with at least good to very good credit. However, there some companies focus on building or rebuilding credit for those with lower scores. Additionally, borrowers with higher scores often receive more favorable terms, such as lower interest rates.
There are five credit score ranges: poor, fair, good, very good, and excellent/exceptional. Your individual credit rating indicates your creditworthiness to creditors, which may include banks, auto financiers, landlords, and mortgage companies.
The entire credit score scale ranges from about 250 to 850. Note that your credit score at each of the three credit reporting agencies may not match. Knowing your credit tier is useful, but a particular score from one bureau isn’t a guarantee of approval with any creditor.
The credit tiers at each of the three major U.S. credit bureaus are as follows:
FICO and VantageScore
Many lenders also use scoring models like FICO or VantageScore to make their final application decisions rather than relying solely on reports from Equifax, Experian, and/or TransUnion.
Like the major bureaus, FICO and VantageScore compile information about consumers’ credit histories and payment habits. However, while the major bureaus create detailed credit reports, FICO and VantageScore only provide numerical credit scores, which may or may not match the scores provided by the three bureaus. While FICO and VantageScore generally take the same data into account, they apply different weights to different factors, which can result in some scoring variation. For example, FICO models ignore accounts sent to collections if the unpaid balance is under $100, while VantageScore models don’t make this exception.
What Your Credit Tier Means
A borrower’s credit score may mean the difference between getting a new car or a used one, renting a home instead of buying, or applying for a secured credit card over a traditional one. Below, we outline the credit tier meanings and how they apply to the borrower. If your score isn’t where you’d like it to be, our related research explains how to improve your credit score.
Borrowers with excellent credit will qualify for the best offers when opening accounts. Specifically, having excellent credit can mean getting immediate approvals, lower interest rates and fees, higher credit limits, and more credit card/loan options. Keep in mind that borrowers achieve this level by keeping their credit usage low and making on-time bill payments for an extended period of time.
At this level, borrowers may be offered favorable interest rates and access a wide range of offers. Borrowers with very good credit may have been late on a payment, or perhaps they’ve managed their credit responsibly but only have a few accounts. In general, this credit level is still considered low-risk, and borrowers have access to many of the advantages the top borrowers have, including lower interest rates and easier approvals.
The average consumer’s credit likely falls within the good range. Borrowers with good credit may have a few late or missed payments, some periods of higher credit utilization, or young accounts. Good credit is generally acceptable — borrowers may have somewhat higher interest rates than they would with a very good or excellent rating, but should still qualify for most types of loans and credit.
Good credit may require some shopping around for the best loan and credit card deals, and it may not be quite as easy to get approved, but many creditors are willing to work with borrowers who have good credit.
Fair credit borrowers usually face higher interest rates and may not qualify for certain types of credit and loans. If your credit has had some issues (like a pattern of late payments, closed accounts, or consistently high credit utilization), but nothing that would be considered a major red flag (like a default on a loan or bankruptcy), your credit may be in the fair category.
Credit options may be more limited at this level, but it is still possible to get approved, especially if you bring on a cosigner with better credit or you put down a deposit.
Borrowers with poor credit are subject to the highest interest rates because they are considered high-risk borrowers. Credit at this level is severely damaged and can involve things like defaulting on loans. To get approved with poor credit, you may need to bring on a cosigner or offer collateral when opening a loan or credit card. If the utility companies in your area consider your credit rating and you have poor credit, you may also need to pay a large deposit to receive service.
It can be challenging to get a new credit account at this level. Still, there are options available to you, such as secured credit cards. Our previous research features the lists of “no credit check” credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, and the best personal loans for bad credit.
- Equifax customer service (888) 548-7878[↩][↩][↩][↩][↩][↩]
- Experian customer service (888) 397-3742[↩][↩][↩][↩][↩][↩]
- TransUnion customer service (855) 681-3196[↩][↩][↩][↩][↩][↩]