Get Your Credit Score - dummies

By John Ventura, Mary Reed

A growing number of creditors, as well as insurance companies, employers, and landlords, use your credit score together with (or rather than) your credit history to make decisions about you. Your credit score is a numeric representation of your creditworthiness, and the number is derived from your credit history information.

Like your credit history, your credit score is a snapshot of how you’ve managed credit in the past, and it is generally considered to be an indicator of how well you are likely to manage credit in the future. The three credit agencies will sell you your score on their Web sites:

There are a variety of different credit scores. For example, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion have each developed their own credit scores. But the FICO score has become the industry standard. You can order your FICO score by going to myFICO.

Your FICO score will range from 300 to 850. The higher your score, the better: A score of at least 720 is considered to be very good.

If your score is below 720, you may still qualify for credit from some creditors, but you’ll be charged a higher interest rate, and you may not qualify for as much credit as you would like. Likewise, insurance companies may be willing to sell you insurance, but you’ll probably pay extra for the coverage, and you may not be able to purchase as much insurance as you want. And when you have a low FICO score, some landlords will not rent to you, and you may not qualify for certain kinds of jobs, especially those that involve handling money.

You can raise your FICO score by improving the state of your finances. For example, your credit score will go up if you

  • Pay down your account balances.

  • Begin paying your debts on time.

  • Build up your savings.

  • Minimize the amount of credit you apply for.

  • Correct problems in your credit histories.