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How low/high can your credit score go?

That depends on which credit score you're looking at. Here are the possibilities.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 9, 2011 8:05AM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

When I went to law school, the grading scale was bizarre. Unlike the normal 0-to-100 range, where, say, 90 to 100 was an "A," the highest mark you could get was a 92. An "A" ranged from an 86 to 92. A "B" was an 80 to an 85. And this reminds me a lot of credit score ranges.

 

The other day a friend was telling me he had a credit score in the 900s. I told him that was impossible because credit scores range from 300 to 850. It turns out, however, that different credit scores have different ranges. So, out of curiosity I dug into the deep recesses of the Internet to bring you the range of credit scores for the various types of scoring models. Let's start with the familiar FICO score.

 

FICO range: The range of scores under the FICO scoring model is 300 to 850. While the folks at FICO don't assign letter grades to its scores or tell you what score constitutes "good," they do provide some useful information. According to myFICO.com, the best interest rates on a mortgage go to folks with scores between 760 and 850. Rates then rise as scores fall into the following ranges:

  • 760 -- 850 (lowest interest rate).
  • 700 -- 759.
  • 680 -- 699.
  • 660 -- 679.
  • 640 -- 659.
  • 620 -- 639 (highest interest rate).

What does that mean? A person in the highest range who gets a $150,000 mortgage may get, say, a 3.81% interest rate and would have a monthly payment of $700. A person on the lower end may qualify instead for a 5.4% interest rate and would pay $842 a month, according to FICO. (Note that the interest rates change daily. You can see today's mortgage rates here.) Post continues after video.

VantageScore range: The range of credit scores with VantageScore is probably the closest to a typical grading scale you'll find. Oddly, the top score is 990. Why it's not 1,000 is a mystery. The complete range of possible scores is 501 to 990. But VantageScore does assign a familiar letter grade to its numerical scores. Here's the breakdown from Experian:

  • A. 901 -- 990.
  • B. 801 -- 900.
  • C. 701 -- 800.
  • D. 601 -- 700.
  • F. 501 -- 600 (high risk).

Equifax credit score range: Equifax offers its own proprietary scoring model with a range of 280 to 850. Just to confuse matters, Equifax also offers a FICO score, which is the better choice if you want to see the score most lenders will see.

 

Experian Plus score range: The Experian Plus score ranges from 330 to 830.

 

TransRisk score range: Like the FICO score, TransUnion's TransRisk score ranges from 300 to 850.

 

CE score range: While you may not have heard of the CE score, it was developed by CE Analytics and is used by the likes of Quizzle. According to Quizzle, the CE score ranges from 350 to 850.

 

With all of these different credit scores and ranges, one question to ask is, which one do creditors actually use? Though different creditors use different scoring models, FICO is by far the most widely used. You can get more details of the types of credit scores available in The Dough Roller's Complete Guide to Credit Scores.

 

More on The Dough Roller and MSN Money:

8Comments
Sep 10, 2011 9:33AM
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Average Joe, I read you loud and clear. I have researched this topic in depth for the past 3 years. The Federal Trade Commission conducted a study on the effects of the credit scoring system and generated a 300 page report. (I have been reading it). So far, I have not found any language that talks about all the credit models are developed by "for profit" companies. We know the system is skewed in favor of the lender. It is absolute b.s. that one 30 day late payment is considered a "trend". I think someone needs to give them a lesson on statistics. And who in heavens name says it should remain on your file for 3-5 years? Seriously? This places an incredible amount of people in the sub-prime lending category. If this Country really wants to start the financial rebuilding process, it needs to address the necessity of a major overhaul of this system. Americans love to spend. The credit scoring system as we know it today, is carefully crafted and ultimately (unfairly) lines the pockets of big banks.  
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Wow, I don't think I've ever been first in line for anything. THis is awesome!

Anyways, I've been a slave to credit scores just like everyone else. Even though my debt ratio is very low (between 10 and 15%), have a decent salary, no real unsecured debt (my HELOC is tied to a condo which has been increasing in value), my credit score ranges between the middle 600s to low 700s for years. Free tip from uncle Ric. Don't let old unresolved credit miscues fester, they will haunt you like memories of old Milli Vanilli videos. My battle with the telecommunications giants (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon) collections dogs over the last 10 years who all tried to screw me in one way or another, is an ever present thorn in my back-side. Make sure that if you have irregularities with any bills that you address them immediately and try to avoid prolonged (or in my case) unresolved disputes that end up in collections. Once they get to that point, it's truly an uphill battle. And ignoring the letters is NOT a good idea. I'm finally fighting all of these credit ghosts so I can get my score in the "show me the money" range, but it will likely take months. Good luck to any one going through this, and be sure to document all correspondence.

Sep 19, 2011 10:12AM
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I am coming out of a joint bankrupcy & foreclosure due to loss of a high paying job. I used most of my savings & 401K trying to hang on, but I couldn't. I went just over a year without working. I now have a good job (2 yrs) my credit scores range from 722-752 for the 3 scources.  I have a 5 year auto loan (17% Int) it will be paid off in 2 years. 1 credit card ($300 limit) paid in full each month. I have some savings and a new 401K. I am in my 60's and 5-6 years from retirement. How long before I can consider a home purchase?
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General,

I understand that you are quite the authority on "the "FICO" enigma, and I'm beginning to believe the models (more precisely the manipulation by the three credit scoring agencies) are a bit of a racket.

 

I believe it's Fair Isaac that developed the original scoring methodology/system that every single American is subject to for all things financial, with the possible exception of gift cards and junior's allowance. Compound that with the permutations from the "credit god" reporting agencies, and "We have a problem Houston". 

 

The fact that these bureaus are for profit business entities never used to bother me, maybe because it seemed low threat. I mean they never directly came after me for money.  But recently my Spidey senses tell me that all those credit monitoring and identity theft protection offers don't come as free gifts out of their generosity and concern for my financial peace of mind.

 

But I'm glad that the FTC is watching our for us, right? I wonder if that's supposed to make us feel better. After a bit of thought, I'd have to say NO!!!!!!  I support your call for reform (and/or effective monitoring). What's next?

Aug 14, 2013 12:28AM
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Is it possible for me to have a credit score of 0 under my equifax, i got my credit report and there was only one bill in collections under my equifax for 74.00 even and i just dont understand how it is 0
Sep 10, 2011 11:53AM
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I got a divorce 10 years ago and my ex trashed my credit because she charged all sorts of things in my name with her address, so I didn't know about it until too late. Something called check systems won't even let me open a bank account now.  I got ripped off but there isn't much I could do, plus I still get the harassing phone calls and have no credit what-so-ever.

Sep 10, 2011 12:30PM
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 I rent (Whats the point in buying in this market), and I pay cash for everything.  I owe no one a dime.  I don;t care what my credit rating is.  It's all a racket anyway, you are all pawns of the consumer machine.

Sep 24, 2013 3:54AM
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