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Few numbers mean as much today as your three-digit credit score. Lenders rely on these scores to determine if you qualify for mortgage or auto loans. A growing number of insurance companies use the scores to set your auto insurance rates. Even a majority of employers — 60 percent, according to one recent study — look at the credit scores of applicants when hiring new employees.
In other words, if your credit score is low, you’re sunk.
But how do you know what your credit score is? You can order your scores from the nation’s three credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. But this isn’t free. You’ll have to pay about $15 for your score.
But you can get an estimate of your credit score for no charge at all, if you own an iPhone. That’s because Apperian now offers an app that will provide you a hint of what your three-digit score might actually be.
Credit scores range from the high 300s to the 800s on the popular FICO credit-scoring system. You’ll want your credit score to be 740 or higher. If it is, you’ll generally qualify for the best credit cards and loans. You’ll also nab the lowest interest rates when you do borrow money.
If your score is too low — anything under 620 — you’ll struggle to even get loans or credit cards. And when you do qualify, lenders and financial institutions will hit you with the worst possible interest rates. That’s because if your credit score is low, you have a history of missing payments or make them late. Lenders view you as risky, and the high interest rates are their way of gaining some financial protection when they lend to you or approve you for credit cards.
Apperian’s iPhone app, known as myFICO, can give you an estimate of what kind of credit score you have, and you won’t have to pay a cent.
As you open the app, you’ll be presented with 10 questions designed to determine your financial health. The questions are simple, but once you answer them all, you’ll have provided the app with a clear picture of how mature a consumer you are.
For instance, the app will ask you how many credit cards you own, the number of late payments you’ve made in the last year, how much credit card debt you have and how many times you’ve applied for credit in the last year.
Once you answer all 10 questions — and this shouldn’t take long — the app will provide you with a range into which your FICO score probably fits. It will also tell you whether this score is good or bad.
You can also access information about what goes into a credit score and how lenders use this information.
In all, it’s a pretty nifty tool. If you already know your credit score and if you’re familiar with how credit scores work, the myFICO app probably won’t tell you anything you don’t know. But if you consider yourself a credit score novice, this is one app that you’ll want to access.