Real talk: There are a lot of numbers out there that you probably stress over throughout the day. The digits flashing on your FitBit, the commas in your bank account and the number of calories in your bacon-egg-and-cheese.
But there are three little digits you especially need to pay attention to, as they could have a major effect on your financial freedom. I’m talking about your credit score.
Why a good credit score matters.
Your credit score gives lenders a good snapshot of what type of borrower you’ll be, so you really need to take it seriously. It’s all fun and games until you can’t qualify for a mortgage, ya know?
This little number not only dictates whether you even qualify for a mortgage, credit card, other loans, insurance rates and even a cell phone plan, but it also helps determine the interest rate you’re ultimately slapped with. A bad credit score can kill a loan, and you could end up paying a cringe-worthy amount of interest. It can even be a deal-breaker on your next Bumble date.
Paying attention yet? Thought so.
What’s a good credit score?
Since nothing can ever not be complicated, you actually have many versions of your credit score from a number of different companies.
The two major companies who offer you scores are FICO and VantageScore. Fun fact: FICO is actually an analytics software company that uses a mathematical algorithm to predict financial behavior, specifically how likely it is that a borrower (you) will fall 90 days behind on payments over 24 months.
Because making a pinky promise with a lender just won’t cut it.
VantageScore is to FICO as Amazon is to Walmart: competition. While VantageScore is a newer scoring model developed by the three major credit bureaus, both FICO and VantageScore numbers are based on a scale that ranges from 300 to 850. FICO offers many different credit scores, depending on the request of the company that makes the inquiry. The credit report given to a landlord or potential employer won’t be the same as one provided to a mortgage lender or credit card company.
In general, though, a good credit score is 750 or higher, and will give you some of the best rates. If your credit score is anything below 650, you’ll want to do some damage control, STAT. But don’t worry, there are still credit cards out there for those with fair or bad credit.
You can easily check your credit score for free at myBankrate.com. Panicking over a pitiful score? Don’t. Categories that impact your score include your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit in use. With that in mind, you have most of the info you need to start building that score, and can boost your credit even more with these four simple steps.