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Good Credit Means a FICO Score of 750 to 770

In the post-2009 world, it takes a better credit score to get approved for credit cards and loans.

Credit experts estimate it now takes a credit score of between 750 and 770 to qualify for most loans—even auto loans! Just a year or two ago, borrowers with credit scores in the high 500s and low 600s could easily drive off the lot in a new car with an auto loan at a decent interest rate.

That day is gone.

Need to know your score? Check your credit score online now or read more about how to check your own credit score.

The new credit requirements reflect a new credit market that is, perhaps, here to stay. The bottom line? Banks only want to lend money to consumers they can almost guarantee will not default. By credit-scoring standards, that means a score in the high 700s. If your credit falls short, finding a loan may not be impossible, but you may find yourself paying astronomical interest rates that were once reserved for borrowers with really bad credit.


Though it sometimes seems it, credit scoring is not magic. There are three essential things you need to do to get your credit score where it needs to be.

  1. Pay ALL of your bills on time. Never give your creditors any reason to report something bad about you. (If you’ve paid late in the past, it’ll take longer for your score to recover, but it will eventually).
  2. Keep your credit card debt to less than 10% of your available credit. Basically, you should be able to wipe out your credit card debt in one month, every month. Keeping your total debt to about 10% of your available credit is more important than ever. If you’re deep in debt, there’s nothing more important than paying it off.
  3. Only apply for credit when you absolutely need to. That means no store credit cards just to save 15% today. When it comes time to apply for an important loan, the fewer times you have applied for credit in the past two years, the better.

That’s really ALL you need to know about getting a good FICO score. You could spend hours reading up on “credit repair tricks” and the like, but nothing will improve your credit as quickly or effectively as the three steps above. Get started today and check your credit score online now with one of our recommended Websites.

Published or updated on December 18, 2008

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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