Personal Finance in Your 20s and 30s: How Lenders Use Credit Reports and Scores
Most people borrow money at various times in their life, whether it’s to buy a home (or other real estate), to finance a small business, pay for educational expenses, or for other purposes. When you want to borrow money, lenders examine your credit report and your credit score(s) to determine how responsible you’ve been with credit and to help them decide whether they should lend you money (and if so, how much to charge you).
Specifically, lenders examine your history of credit usage in your credit report. This information tells the lender when each of your accounts was opened, what the recent balance is, your track record of making payments on time, and whether you’ve defaulted on any loans. A credit report also tells a prospective lender who has recently accessed your credit report and thus would indicate where else you’ve been applying for credit.
Lenders use your credit score to help them predict the likelihood that you’ll default on repaying your borrowings. The higher your credit score the better, because a high credit score means that you have a lower likelihood of defaulting on a loan. Thus, more lenders will be willing to extend you credit and charge you lower rates for that credit.
The most widely used credit score is the FICO score, which was developed by the FICO company (formerly known as Fair, Isaac and Company). FICO scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850. Most scores fall in the 600s and 700s, and the median is around 720. You generally qualify for the best lending rates if your credit score is in the mid-700s or higher.