Advertisement
credit & debt

Understand and Improve Your Credit Score

It's Get Smart About Credit Day -- so learn why this number is important, how to get your score and how to boost it if it is low.

It's Get Smart About Credit Day. So how smart are you about credit?

For starters, do you know your credit score? The most common credit score is the FICO score, which is based on your credit history (basically a summary of how much you owe and how promptly you pay your bills). Lenders use it when determining whether to give you a loan or offer you a credit card and at what interest rate. The FICO score ranges from 300 to 850, and you usually need a score of 760 or higher to get the lowest interest rates on loans. You can get your score at myFICO.com for $19.95, or for free if you've been denied credit or charged a higher rate because of your score (see How to Get Your Credit Score for Free).

Advertisement - Article continues below

You actually don't have just one FICO score. You have three based on your credit reports from each of the credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If the information on your credit report varies from bureau to bureau, your FICO scores can vary, too (learn more). You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com to find discrepancies and fix them.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The credit bureaus also have their own credit score -- the VantageScore. See Understanding Credit Scores to learn about the differences between your VantageScore and FICO score.

If your credit score is low, there are several ways to get your number higher. See Fast Ways to Improve Your Credit Score for tips, and take our Will It Sink Your Credit Score? quiz to find out what actions you should avoid.

For more advice, see our Credit and Money Management page.

Follow me on Twitter

Advertisement

Most Popular

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)
tax deadline

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)

Between due dates for IRA or HSA contributions, paying estimated taxes and other deadlines, there's more to do by July 15 than just filing your federa…
July 10, 2020
Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider
credit & debt

Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider

Your credit score is a key indicator of your financial well-being and of the risk you pose to lenders. How good is yours?
July 10, 2020
65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On
stocks

65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On

These 65 Dividend Aristocrats are an elite group of dividend stocks that have reliably increased their annual payouts every year for at least a quarte…
July 8, 2020

Recommended

Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider
credit & debt

Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider

Your credit score is a key indicator of your financial well-being and of the risk you pose to lenders. How good is yours?
July 10, 2020
Banks Canceling Credit Cards, Cutting Limits
credit & debt

Banks Canceling Credit Cards, Cutting Limits

If you haven’t used a card in awhile, make a small purchase with it to keep it open. It’s good for your credit score.
June 4, 2020
Milliennials Face Their Second Recession
credit & debt

Milliennials Face Their Second Recession

Forty percent of millennials say the pandemic will likely cause them to delay payments on their debts. Does that include you? Time to take action.
June 4, 2020
When Savings Bonds Make Sense
credit & debt

When Savings Bonds Make Sense

Series I savings bonds are safe options, but don’t go all in.
June 3, 2020