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Free Credit Score

When you or a lender "checks your credit," a scoring form from FICO® or VantageScore® is applied to the current data on one of your credit reports.

Your score will vary, depending on which version of FICO® or VantageScore® was used and whether your credit report was viewed by Experian®, Equifax® or TransUnion®.

Your credit score may vary from month to month or day to day as new data is sent to your credit reports.

Free Credit Score Review

NerdWallet uses VantageScore® 3.0 and data from your TransUnion® credit report. Most lending decisions are made using the FICO® model. If you have a good VantageScore®, you may also have a good FICO® score—both will answer the same basic rules for managing your credit score. This is because they take into account similar factors, with some differences in how they are measured:

Payment History: Record on-time payments and any negative signs, such as missed payments, bills sent to collections or bankruptcy.

Credit Utilization: The balance you owe and the amount of available credit you are using.

Credit history age: How long you've been using credit.

Applications: How many times you have applied for credit recently.

Credit Type: How many and what types of credit accounts you have, such as credit cards, installment debt (such as a mortgage and car loan), or a combination.

A credit score does not take into account your income, savings or job security. Therefore, in addition to your credit score, lenders may also check what you owe, how much you earn, and what assets you have.

What is my credit score - and why does it matter?

Your credit score is a number used by lenders and credit card issuers to help them decide whether to approve your credit application. The higher your score, the better your chances.

With a low score, you may still be able to get credit, but it may come with higher interest rates or require a co-signer or security deposit. You may have to pay more for car insurance or make a deposit for utilities. Landlords can use your score to decide if they want you as a tenant.

But as you add points to your score, you'll have access to more credit products — and pay less to use them. Borrowers with scores above 750 or higher (on a typical scale of 300-850) have several options, including the ability to qualify for 0% auto financing and credit cards with 0% introductory interest rates.

What can I do with my balance?

When your credit is strong, you have a better chance of qualifying for credit cards and loans and getting better interest rates. Good credit can also save you money. You may qualify for better mobile phone deals, lower interest deposits (or no interest payments) and lower insurance payments, for example. And some employers and owners are considering credit, too.

How are credit scores and credit reports different? What are the three credit bureaus?

Your credit reports are a record of how you've used credit in the past. Credit scores, in turn, interpret information on your credit reports to estimate your likelihood of repaying borrowed money. Your credit information is collected by the three major credit bureaus, Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®, as well as some smaller companies. It's important to review your reports for accuracy so errors don't hurt your credit score.

What is a good credit score? What are credit scores?

Commonly used credit score models range from 300 to 850. Each lender sets its own criteria for what constitutes a good credit score. But in general, the grades fall as follows:

Excellent credit: 720 and above

Good credit: 690-719

Fair credit: 630-689

Bad credit: 629 or less

If you're just starting out or haven't used credit for at least six months, you may not get a score. Don't worry, NerdWallet has a guide to help you get started building credit.

How do I build my credit score?

The two biggest factors in your credit score are making payments on time and managing how much of your credit limit you use. That's why it's at the top of this list of tips:

Pay all your bills, not just credit cards, on time. Late payments and bills billed or sent to groups will hurt your score.

Don't use more than 30% of your credit limit on any card - less if possible. People who use 10% or less of their credit limits get the best results.

Keep accounts open and active when possible - this gives you a longer payment history and can help with your 'credit utilisation'.