credit score do you needUpdated: May 2, 2019

You’ve probably noticed that credit cards list “credit needed for approval” with terms like Excellent, Good, Fair and Very Poor, but what does that mean? We’ve written about what credit scores are and how they differ from credit reports. However, even if you know your credit scores, you may not be sure what term describes them. We’re dusting off our credit-to-English dictionary so we can explain each of these terms. Keep reading to see where your credit scores fall and learn how to find the right card for your credit score.

Credit scores, credit scores, credit scores

The first hurdle is acknowledging that there are many credit scores. Each kind of score is essentially a different formula that weighs factors of your credit history to guess if you’re likely to repay your debt. We call that the applicant’s creditworthiness.

While there are many kinds of credit scores, most of them share a number range of 300 to 850. Additionally, FICO 8 scores are such a dominant force in credit scores that knowing the FICO 8 ranges will get you 90% of the way.

The breakdown

Now to the numbers. We’ve listed the credit score range that matches each term for FICO 8 and VantageScore below. Keep in mind, however, that this is a general guideline. Each credit card issuer has its own credit qualification criteria to decide whether to offer a line of credit, and on what terms. Credit issuers often review both debt and income to make their decision.

FICO 8 VantageScore
Exceptional: 800-850 Excellent: 750-850
Very Good: 740-799 Good: 700-749
Good: 670-739 Fair: 650-699
Fair: 580-669 Poor: 550-649
Very Poor: 300-579 Very poor: 300-549

While FICO 8 is currently the most commonly used credit score, credit card issuers don’t always find FICO’s scale and terms the most useful way to categorize good and bad credit scores. For that reason, we have found the following list of commonly accepted scores to be the most useful when recommending credit cards.

Commonly Accepted
Excellent: 750-850
Good: 700-749
Average: 670-699
Below average: 620-669
Bad credit: 619 and below

How to find the right card for your credit score

Visit our credit card reviews and use our “Find a Credit Card” tool to find the right card by filtering via “Card Type,” “Card Issuer” and “Credit Rating.” To learn more about credit cards, credit management and the latest credit card deals, follow our credit card blog.

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