What Is a Good FICO Credit Score Range?

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

It’s important to be in a good, no great FICO credit score range. It’s also important to know what your score is.

I used to think otherwise. I never had a credit problem. I never missed a payment. I never even paid a cent in credit card interest. I figured I must be in a great FICO credit score range. Here’s what I found out:

What good is FICO

According to Fair Isaac, the people who created FICO and calculate your FICO score, 90% of the largest banks use your FICO score. Also, the Fair Isaac folks say that “a 100 point difference in your FICO score could mean over $40,000 extra interest payments over the life of a 30-year mortgage on a $300,000 home loan.” Looked at another way, by staying in a great FICO credit score range, you’ll be able to pay off your home mortgage much faster. I like it!


That being said, no matter who you are and where you are financially, it’s critical to know your score and make sure you clean up any credit report errors quickly.

The formula that Fair Isaac uses to calculate your FICO score is kept secret – sort of like the recipe for Coca Cola. It’s common knowledge that the low range of a FICO score is between 300 and 400. The high range is between 800 and 900. However, we do know that the good folks at Fair Isaac look at the following factors in arriving at your score:

  • Do you have a good payment history? (35% weight)
  • How much of your available credit are you using and how much total debt do you have? (30% weight)
  • How long is your credit history? (15% weight)
  • Have you applied for credit recently? (10% weight)
  • Why types of credit are you using? (undetermined weight)

What is a good FICO Score

720 or better is good. But keep in mind that even someone with this score could be turned down for a loan or get a higher rate from one bank than another bank. That’s because each institution interprets the score (and your circumstances) differently.

  • How long have you been at your current job?
  • How long have you lived in your home?

These and other factors come into play in determining what rate you’ll pay for credit. Your credit score isn’t so much about you. It’s more about how safe the bank feels their investment in you is at this time. Fair Isaac says the Median FICO Score in the US is 723. That means if you want great credit terms, shoot for a rate that’s higher than 723.

What does the FICO score mean

The FICO score estimates the probability that you’ll be late in a payment for 90 days or longer over the next two years.

PERCENTILE (%) OF PEOPLE SCORING AT THE DELINQUENCY RATE

Percentile
Percent of People
Score
Delinquency Rate
2nd
2%
300 - 499
87%
7th
5%
500 - 549
71%
15th
8%
550 - 599
51%
27th
12%
600 - 649
31%
42nd
15%
650 - 699
15%
60th
18%
700 - 749
5%
87th
27%
750 - 799
2%
100th
13%
800 - 850
1%

This means if your score is below 500, you have an 87% chance of being late in your payments by 90 days or more over the next two years. If your score is above 799, you have only a 1% chance. Obviously, the higher your score, the lower the risk…and that means you’ll get better interest rates when you get credit. That’s how the lenders use your FICO credit score and that’s why you must do everything you can to improve your credit score fast.

Interested in finding out what your score is? You can get your free credit score here:

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kerri McDougald August 7, 2012 at 1:58 AM

In late 2012 are credit repair companies still relevant or have credit companies figured them out and are they making them useless and if so who are the real guys?

Reply

james woodson January 6, 2011 at 6:54 AM

I have been given a fresh start with the help of a credit repair company. I got the results sent directly to me, so I knew they were doing their job. I wasn’t happy about the cost, but my credit was pretty bad. It’s been well worth it so far.

Reply

Gary McFarland December 13, 2012 at 12:39 AM

What was the company that you used?

Reply

Neal Frankle December 13, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Credit Sesame is the one I use.

Reply

Chris October 18, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Amazing since they have a banner advertisement on this page!

Reply

Neal Frankle October 19, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Chris. I only recommend companies I have used. Not that amazing.

michael watson December 17, 2010 at 4:46 PM

On the chart showing Percentile Delinquency rate the 87th percentile FICO score range should be – 750 – 799 (not 750 -749).

Reply

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