Building or rebuilding credit isn’t always easy. While sometimes you may be able to boost your credit scores quickly, most of the time the process requires a lot of hard work and a little patience thrown in for good measure.
When facing credit repair, instead of aiming for a perfect credit score right out of the gate, it may be better to aim for a score in the good range — such as a 700. While a 700 credit score isn’t perfect, most lenders consider it to be good.
Keep reading to learn some good credit score habits that could help you earn a 700 credit score — and why a 700 credit score (or more!) is worth the effort.
You’ll also find a helpful cheat sheet with a few credit pitfalls you’ll want to avoid.
Good Credit Score Habits
Most credit scoring models used by lenders feature a credit score range of 300 to 850. The higher your score climbs on that scale, the better off you’ll be.
You can’t control which scoring model a lender will use to evaluate your credit reports.
But you do have a lot of control over the information that shows up on your credit reports in the first place.
This is where you should focus your attention if you want to boost your credit scores.
Step one to earning a 700 credit score is to figure out which information from your reports influences your credit scores in the first place. From there, you can design some credit-smart habits that may help you earn a higher number of points.
These 5 good credit score habits that could help.
Keep an eye on your credit reports
You’ll want to check all three reports from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
If you find mistakes — they do happen — you can dispute them with the credit bureaus.
Always pay on time
This is non negotiable. 35% of your FICO Scores and a significant portion of your VantageScore credit scores are based on your payment history.
It’s the most important category that influences your scores. If you do miss a payment, you may receive a negative mark on your credit report, thereby lowering your score. If this happens, you do have the option of writing a goodwill letter, explaining your case and asking the credit agency to remove it.
Only use a small portion of your credit card limits
Your credit card has a limit. Whether it’s $500, $5,000, or $25,000, just because you can charge that much doesn’t mean you should.
Credit scoring models pay attention to your credit utilization (i.e. the percentage of credit card limits used, per your credit reports).
The higher your credit utilization climbs, the lower your credit scores may fall.
Ask a loved one for help
You might consider asking a loved one to add you onto an existing, positive credit card account as an authorized user.
This strategy is far better than co-signing because it could potentially help you build credit without putting your loved one at risk.
Mix it up
Credit scoring models are designed to reward credit reports that show a healthy mixture of account types.
So, if you only have credit cards on your reports, you might consider adding an installment account (like a credit builder loan) or a car loan.
How Good Is a 700 Credit Score?
According to Experian, a credit score of 700 falls within the “good” score category under both FICO and VantageScore credit scoring models. Here’s a look at how a 700 credit score measures up.
As you can see, with a 700 credit score you have a great chance of being approved when you apply for financing. (This is based on the credit piece of an application. Other factors, like employment and income, will be evaluated too.)
But a 700 score doesn’t guarantee you the lowest interest rate or the best terms available.
How Much Can You Borrow with a 700 Credit Score?
Your credit score can have a big influence over your ability to qualify for a loan. It can also impact how much you’ll pay for financing (aka your interest rate) once you’re approved.
But your credit score isn’t the first thing lenders look at when they want to figure out how much money they’re comfortable loaning you.
How much you can borrow often has more to do with your debt to income ratio — how much money you earn versus the debt you already owe.
Here’s the formula to calculate your debt-to-income ratio (DTI).
Each lender sets its own requirements when it comes to DTI. The lower your DTI, the lower your risk. With a lower DTI, a lender may be more comfortable issuing you a higher loan amount.
In general, a DTI of 20% or less is considered excellent. However, if you’re buying a home, Fannie Mae sets the maximum DTI ratio at a high 50%.
(You’ll have to meet credit score requirements to qualify.)
Keep in mind, just because a lender let’s borrow up to a certain maximum, doesn’t mean it’s the right financial decision.
You should take an honest look at your budget and do your own calculations.
Figure out how much money you can comfortably afford to pay on a new loan each month before you commit.
Is a 700 Credit Score Good Enough for a Mortgage?
The short answer is yes. A 700 credit score is high enough to satisfy most mortgage lenders.
In fact, a 700 credit score could help you land a pretty decent interest rate on a home loan.
Here’s what FICO has to say about how a 700 credit score stacks up when you want to take out a mortgage, based on available interest rates at the time this article was written.
According to FICO, a 700 score could help you qualify for the next-to-lowest available rate on a mortgage.
On a large mortgage loan, that lower interest rate could add up to a significant savings over the years, especially if you worked hard to bring your scores up from the 600s.
Credit Pitfalls to Avoid
Once you’ve enacted enough healthy credit habits to earn a 700 credit score, you’ll need to keep up with the good habits that helped you get there in the first place.
Yet sometimes knowing what not to do is just as important when it comes to maintaining good credit.
Here are 3 credit pitfalls to avoid.
Don’t close old credit cards
You might not know it, but closing an unused credit card could hurt your credit scores.
Closing an account won’t lower your average age of credit (that’s a myth), but it might increase your overall credit utilization rate — a big credit score no-no.
Avoid applying for too much new credit
When a lender pulls your credit as part of a loan or credit card application, there’s a chance it could hurt your credit score. If any damage happens (and that’s not a given), it’s usually only a little and will only last for up to 12 months.
Still, it’s wise to make a habit of applying for new credit only when you need it and probably not because you’re trying to get 20% off your purchase at the mall.
Don’t wait until the due date to pay
Did you know that most credit card issuers only update account information (including your balance) with the credit bureaus once a month? If you wait until your due date to pay, your credit report could show a high balance and utilization on your credit card until the next monthly update.
Remember, high utilization can be bad for credit scores.
Pay before the statement closing date on your account, however, and you should bypass this potential issue.
Don’t Stop at 700
If you’re trying to improve your credit, a 700 credit score is a great initial goal to set. But don’t stop there. Ideally, you should aim a little higher if you want lenders to roll out the red-carpet treatment for you.
The good news is that you don’t have to earn a perfect 850 credit score to enjoy the best treatment from lenders, including the most attractive interest rates available.
While a perfect 850 score might give you some pretty cool bragging rights, the goal is to have the highest credit score possible — and even when you reach the excellent, strive to maintain it.
Michelle Black is a credit expert with over 16 years of experience in the industry and a freelance writer.