March 19, 2019

Your Money Adviser: Consumer Group Sees a Rise in People Checking Credit Scores

The range for basic credit scores is 300 to 850. Slightly different ranges may be used for industry-specific scores; FICO’s range for car loan scores, for instance, is 250 to 900. Generally, scores of 700 or higher are considered good.

ORC International, a market research and opinion polling firm, conducted the survey of 1,005 people by landline phones and cellphones from May 31 to June 3. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Here are some questions and answers about credit scores:

How can I keep a good credit score?

The two most important steps, the federation advises, are to make monthly credit card and loan payments on time, and to keep your card balances low — ideally, about 25 percent of your credit limit.

Consumers can take a free online quiz to test their knowledge at

What can people with scant credit history do if a loan application is rejected?

One way to build credit history is with a “secured” credit card, available from some credit unions and banks, Mr. Burns said. With a secured card, the consumer makes a deposit — say, $500 — and draws on the money to make purchases. Payments on the card are reported to credit bureaus, helping to establish a credit history that can eventually qualify the borrower for a traditional credit card.

Using secured cards is preferable to opening a store credit card as a way to build credit, Mr. Burns said, because store cards typically carry high interest rates and often come with stingy limits, making it difficult to keep borrowing low. “I’d veer away from store cards,” he said.

Where can I get free credit scores and credit reports?

Consumers are entitled by law to one free credit report a year from each of the three major bureaus. You can get yours at a dedicated website,

Free FICO scores are offered by many credit card companies and lenders; ask yours what’s available. (Discover offers free FICO scores to non-cardholders if they register on its website.) Experian offers free FICO scores on its consumer website. Free VantageScores are available through many websites, including

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