Your Credit Score Questions Answered

Ask questions about your credit score to help improve your score.

When you’re young and just starting to experiment with credit, it’s easy to get confused, frustrated, or even nervous about using it. That’s why we’re trying to demystify the borrowing world for you by answering your common credit questions:

When you’re young and just starting to experiment with credit, it’s easy to get confused, frustrated, or even nervous about using it.

What's an average credit score?

Credit scores range from 300 to 850—the higher, the better (credit experts say a score in the mid-700s will get you the best interest rates). Check out this graph of credit scores by age to see how you stack up to people in your generation.

What’s not included in my score?

In this post, we revealed the makeup of your score and what it means to you and lenders. But there are plenty of aspects about you that are not factored in your credit score:

  • Demographics: your age, race, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, and where you live
  • Employment info: your salary, occupation, title, employer, and job history
  • Personal info: whether you pay alimony or child support or have participated in credit counseling
  • Soft inquiries: when you check your credit report or someone sends you a pre-approved offer
  • Financial: Your bank account activities or interest rates on existing cards or loans 

What will and won’t ding my credit score?

In this post, we let you in on four actions you might be taking that can set your score down a few notches. Here are some additional do’s and don’ts:

What will ding your score?

  • Missing or making late payments 30 days past due on credit cards, loans, and now rent
  • Having too much new credit
  • Requesting too many inquiries by lenders at a time
  • Using too much of your available credit
  • Undergoing bankruptcy, foreclosure, or repossession
  • Being sent to collections
  • Being taken to court by a creditor and losing (also called judgment or garnishment)

What won't ding your score?

  • Making late payments on utilities and cellphone bills (unless you’re sent to collections or taken to court)
  • Working with a credit counselor
  • Checking your own credit score
  • Paying off your balances or never having a balance

How can I get my credit score?

You can get your credit score for free if you're ever denied credit, but if you just want to check it, it will cost you. Many offers for "free" credit scores aren't really free—they require you to buy other services, such as credit monitoring.

If you’d like to purchase your score, go straight to the source that lenders review: FICO.

But if you’d just like to review and monitor your credit history (which we highly recommend), you can check your credit report for free each year through This does not include your score, but it gives you an idea of what it might contain.

Source: Fair Credit Foundation

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