Your credit score, often referred to as your FICO score, is a three digit number based on your current and past financial activities. This score is essentially used to show potential lenders exactly how much risk you present when borrowing money. This higher your score is, the more trustworthy you appear to financial institutions and the more likely you are to make your payments on time.
How is My FICO Score Calculated?
Your score is based on the data contained in your credit report; a record of all past and present financial activities. This information is entered into a complex mathematical formula, resulting in a three digit number between 300 and 850. The main factors involved in this calculation are as follows: Payment History (35%), Debt Ratio (30%), Length of Credit History (15%), Types of Credit (10%), Number of Credit Inquiries (10%).
It is crucial to frequently check over a copy of your credit report, as erroneous entries are very common, and can result in a disastrously negative impact on your credit rating. Errors, fraud, out dated information, and incorrect entries are found on nearly 80% of all credit reports, so be sure to log online and check your credit history at least once per year.
What is the Average US Credit Score?
Your FICO score will fall somewhere in the range of 300 and 850, with 300 being the worst possible credit score, and 850 being the absolute best score possible. It is unlikely that your score will be at either of these extremes, but will more likely fall somewhere in the middle, with the average US score coming in at approximately 720. It is a general rule of thumb that a score of 700 or higher will get you the best interest rates and terms on loans and mortgages. While those with a score of 600 or less will usually receive high interest rates and more restrictive loans.
It is also important to remember that your FICO rating is only one of the three major credit rating systems currently used in the United States. When requesting your credit score, be sure to use a service that provides you with all three credit ratings. This will give you a more complete understanding of where your credit stands in the eyes of lenders, banks, and credit card companies.