Credit Score – Good? or Good Enough?

This is a guest post from Jim Wang of Bargaineering. If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing to his RSS feed.

Credit scores are becoming increasingly important each and every day. While some people check them compulsively, almost as frequently as they check their investment portfolio, others check them infrequently, like the oil in their car. Regardless of where you stand, that three digit credit score plays a big role in your life, so it’s important to make sure that you have a good one.

So what’s a good credit score?

Good is relative. If you’re not planning on getting a loan, you probably shouldn’t be too worried about your score. As long as you have an average credit score or above, you’re in good shape. In such cases, good enough is good enough.

But let’s say that you want to buy a house, and you’re looking for a 30 year, fixed rate mortgage. What do the rates look like relative to credit scores?

Here’s what MyFICO says:

FICO Score APR Monthly payment
760-850 5.282% $1, 663
700-759 5.504% $1, 704
680-699 5.681% $1, 738
660-679 5.895% $1, 778
640-659 6.325% $1, 862
620-639 6.871% $1, 970

In that case, anything above 760 is “good, ” though anything about 700 r†ange are pretty darn good. The point that I’m trying to make is that the definition of good depends on your needs. If you don’t need to borrow, then a 620 is as good as a 850. After all, you can’t walk into the grocery store with your 850 and expect to get anything with that alone, right?

So, the next time you’re fretting about how good your score is, think about what you’re trying to achieve first. Once you have context, it’s worth spending time finding out if your score is good, or at least good enough.

There are several ways you can see your FICO credit score for free, but all of them require that you sign up for a trial membership for some sort of paid service (e.g., requires a seven day free trial of their credit monitoring service). If you don’t want the hassle, you can always try a site like Credit Karma.

Credit Karma is absolutely free, but it’s not a true FICO score. Rather, it’s an approximation based on your TransUnion credit report. If you’re planning on getting a loan, you’ll want your real FICO score. If you’re just curious or want to see how it changes, the TransUnion-based score is good enough.

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6 Responses to “Credit Score – Good? or Good Enough?”

  1. Anonymous

    If you really look at it, then those sites do provide a free credit report. All you have to do is be responsible enough to remember to cancel the free trial before the 7 days are up.

    If you can’t be responsible and remember to do that, then I don’t think your ever going to be able to handle the responsibilities of getting out of debt.

  2. Anonymous

    That’s a great breakdown; it becomes clear how your credit card can affect you, especially since a few points can have a drastic difference. Everyone should get a free credit report every year, even if you think your score doesn’t matter at the time. Better safe than sorry!

  3. Anonymous is Experian’s equivalent. It’s longer between updates, (Credit Karma is every 30 days, Quizzle is 6 months or 1x per year, can’t remember which).

    It would have been nice to know what size mortgage those rates and payments equate to

  4. Anonymous

    The funny thing is you pretty much have to have “good” or “good enough” these days to even get a mortgage. I like this comparison, I didn’t think the difference would be more than a couple bucks a month between 750 and 760. Fascinating.

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