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A credit score (ranging from 300 to 850) is the equivalent to a grade on your credit history report.  It is used by lenders and credit card companies to determine the likelihood that you will repay your debt on time. The higher your credit score, the lower the assumed risk to lend you money and extend you credit.

While no specific definition of “good” is universally accepted, the general view is that a score of 660+ is considered “prime” or “A” credit. If your credit score is below desirable levels, your ability to get a loan or the interest rate you receive on a loan or credit card will be negatively affected.

Late payments will lower your score, but establishing or re-establishing a good track record of making payments on time will raise your score.

The credit score most lenders use is called a FICO® score, from Fair Issac and Company (FICO), which created the risk models used by the major credit reporting agencies to compute credit scores. The FICO score from each credit reporting agency considers only the data in your credit report at that agency.

If your current scores from the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) are different, you're not alone.  30% of those requesting their FICO® score, found that their scores varied 50 points or more from one agency to another.  Which of these scores lenders see can have a huge impact on your monthly payments (whether you're applying for a mortgage, auto loan, credit card or even a cell phone.  The reason your score may be different is probably because the information those agencies have on you differs.  You should take action to correct any credit report inaccuracies that may be causing a low score.  Doing so could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.  

You can request to see your credit score from any of the three major credit reporting agencies or when you request a free copy of your credit report. There is a charge for each credit score request.