When a company wants to determine whether you’re a financial risk, it’ll turn to your FICO credit score. This score is compiled by the Fair Isaac Corporation and it ranges between 300 and 850. The higher your FICO credit score, the better your chances of securing the credit, employment, or services you need.
What is the FICO Credit Score and Who Uses It?
While nobody knows the exact formula for figuring out a FICO credit score, it’s calculated using the following components:
- Your payment history (35%)
- The amount of debt you owe (30%)
- Length of your credit history (15%)
- New credit (10%)
- Different types of credit (10%)
As your credit habits change, so does your FICO score. For example, if you start missing payments, it’ll drop. When you begin meeting those payments again, you should see an improvement.
In addition to credit card companies, loan lenders, banks, and other corporations might take a look at your credit score. This includes those offering essential products like insurance and utilities. Less essential products include Internet and TV providers. In some instances, your employer may want to take a look at your credit score, and the chances are you’ll face a credit check if you want to rent a property.
Credit Cards Giving Free Credit Scores Each Month
By law everyone is entitled to a free credit report each year from each of the 3 credit agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You can get these 3 credit reports free by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. Unfortunately, these credit reports will not include your FICO credit scores. But you can get the scores by paying for them when you request your free annual credit reports.
However, several credit cards now give you the ability to see your FICO credit score for free as a benefit for having that card. The companies and respective cards include:
- Barclaycard: The Arrival, Reward, and Ring cards give you an updated credit score each month. To access your credit score, log into your account and accept the terms and conditions for receiving it.
- Discover: The DiscoverIt card will automatically include your score on your monthly statement. On top of that, you’ll receive a generous 5% cashback, which makes it a handy card to sign up for if you’re looking to enhance your credit limit and attract credit card bonuses.
- First Bankcard: First Bankcard uses Experian-based scores and distributes them to its customers. There is talk that this approach will be rolled out to partner cards, including cards issued by Union Bank.
- Walmart Credit Card: When you first start using online banking with a Walmart Credit Card, you’ll get to see your FICO score.
What is a Good Credit Score?
Generally speaking, any score over 700 is going to help you get your hands on good credit. This means lower interest rates, easier access to credit cards, and a stronger chance of getting a mortgage in the future. However, most credit cards, banks, and mortgage companies will require a score of at least 740 to get the lowest rates. Those with a score in the mid to high 600s may also get decent credit, but that depends on the content of their credit report.
While those who have a score of 550 to around 650 stand a good chance of getting credit, they won’t have access to the best interest rates. Anything too low and there’s a need for you to start investigating why your credit score is so bad, and then you need to find a way to fix it.
Why Look at the FICO Score and Not Something Else?
There are plenty of companies out there willing to offer some form of credit score. What makes FICO different is that it’s almost universally accepted as the standard by mainstream lenders, utility companies, and employers. As such, when you take a look at your FICO score, you’re seeing exactly what these businesses see. If it’s low or borderline, you’ll then know not to apply for too much credit. When it’s high, you know that you can apply for a credit card, be accepted, and get the best terms.