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2: Size Up Your Situation

Size Up Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a snapshot of your ability to manage credit and pay back debt. A lower score can make it harder for you to get car and home loans and might mean higher interest rates on money you borrow. You can get your credit score through:

  • A credit card or loan statement, or financial institution where you have an account
  • A professional, nonprofit credit counselor
  • A credit score service
  • Purchasing a score from one of the credit reporting companies (TransUnion, Equifax or Experian)
  • Asking for your score from a creditor with whom you applied for credit (e.g., mortgage lender)

How's Your Credit?

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Understand Your Credit Score
Your credit score is a number that is calculated using information in your credit report. Most lenders use credit scores rather than credit reports because the scores reduce extensive, detailed information about your financial history to a single number falling in the range from poor to exceptional.

Not all lenders use the same credit score. A good score depends on the scoring model used to calculate it. Most consumers are familiar with the FICO score, which is the standard, but there is another competing credit scoring system, VantageScore, which was developed by the three major credit bureaus.

FICO score ranges

FICO Score Ranges from SAM Money Basics: Credit and Debt

SAM Tips

Review your credit report at least once a year and continue paying down debt to improve your score. Find out more in SAM’s Credit and Debt course.

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