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The Impact of Your Credit

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How credit affects your interest rate

Your credit score is also commonly called a FICO® score, as it’s based on a credit scoring model developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation. Your credit score represents your overall credit history in a single number, based on information in your credit report. Because the way you’ve handled your finances in the past can help predict how you may do so in the future, lenders will consider your score (and the scores of any co-borrowers) when you apply for a mortgage or other loan.

What the FICO® score represents

FICO® scores generally range from 300 (the lowest) to 850 (the highest). A higher score increases a lender’s confidence in the likelihood you will make payments on time. So this number can make a big difference in determining whether you qualify for a loan and the type of loan terms you can obtain.

A higher credit score may help you qualify for better mortgage interest rates. And some lenders may lower their down payment requirement for a new home loan if you have a high credit score. On the other hand, a credit score under 620 could make it harder to get a mortgage or other loan. Lenders differ, but a good score is usually considered to be 700 or above.

Find your FICO® score

Contact any of the 3 major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—to request your credit report and your score: Visit to get a free copy of your credit report which reflects your account and payment history. You are entitled to receive one free report each year from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies. Be aware that while the report is free, you may have to pay a fee to obtain your current FICO® score.


When you get your credit score, it can come with up to 4 explanations of why it isn’t higher. This is a great opportunity to understand and specifically identify factors affecting your score. If you have any questions, contact the credit reporting agency directly for clarification.

Want to improve your score? Get tips on Taking control of your credit score.