What Is a Good Credit Score for a College Student?
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- Credit scores are a history of financial responsibility that updates as you pay financial obligations.
- The higher your credit score, the more likely you can receive a loan or credit card.
- Building credit early is a good way to financially prepare for the future.
A credit score is a number based on your financial history representing how likely you are to repay a loan. Some jobs also check credit reports to measure an applicant's responsibility. A traditional college student likely doesn't have a long financial history and may not have a lot of credit.
You can build your credit in college. With a good credit score, it could be easier to get your first car or credit card.
What Is a Good Credit Score for College Students?
A good credit score for a college student is 670 or higher. Credit rating agencies generate credit scores. They range from 300 to 850 with the following classifications:
- Poor (300-579)
- Fair (580-669)
- Good (670-739)
- Very Good (740-799)
- Excellent (800-850)
Scores are based on your history of using credit and your use of your current line of credit.
Payment history is the biggest factor affecting credit scores. Lenders want to make sure that a loan is repaid, so they look to your history of paying back loans. They use this evidence to show your history of meeting financial obligations.
The length of your credit history shows that you've been financially responsible over time. Typical elements in evaluating the length of your credit history include the age of your oldest credit account, your newest credit account, and the average age of all accounts. Longer credit histories typically receive better scores.
Credit utilization represents how much of your available revolving credit you're using. They usually divide the amount of credit you currently use by the amount of credit available to you. People who rely too much on credit may get in financial trouble, so using too much of your available credit can damage your score. The common recommendation is to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%.
A mix of different types of credit, like car loans, school loans, credit cards, and mortgages, can help boost a credit rating. A diverse range of credit signals to lenders that you can handle a wide variety of financial situations. Credit mix only accounts for 10% of your total score, so taking out a loan to improve your credit is not advisable.
Credit agencies check the number of credit accounts you've opened. New credit accounts also often make hard inquiries into your credit score when you make an application. A large number of accounts, or frequent inquiries, are damaging to a credit score.
How to Check Your Credit Score
Checking your credit score is easy. For students with a bank account or a credit card, their associated apps often have a credit check feature. There are also many free apps and websites that help you check your credit score.
Students can also go directly to the website of a credit rating agency. For individual borrowers, the most important score would be your FICO score. It is used by most lenders and credit card companies when requesting credit. You can request your FICO score directly from the Fair Isaac Corporation website by paying a fee.
Note that none of these methods are "hard inquiries" that will damage your credit score.
How to Build Credit as a College Student
While many college students with loans have some credit, building your credit score as a college student can set you up for financial success after graduation.
1 Get a Student Credit Card
Many companies offer student credit cards that you can get with a simple application. These cards often have perks specifically for college students. If you can confidently pay off your bill in full every month and manage a low credit utilization ratio, student credit cards can help build credit in college fast.
2 Become an Authorized User on a Credit Card
If you don't qualify for a credit card, you can be an authorized user on a credit card of a trusted person like a parent or spouse. This lets you use that person's credit, even though they are still responsible for paying it.
3 Take Out a Credit-Builder Loan
Credit-builder loans are a good option for college students with limited funds and bad or no credit history. With a credit-builder loan, banks and credit unions don't give you the money until you've paid off the loan in full. Making your payments on time each month raises your credit score.
4 Pay Your Student Loans
If possible, paying your loans off as a student can raise your credit score by impacting your payment history. If you have a loan that accrues interest during school, making interest-only payments can save you money in the long run. Paying your loans off early can increase your credit.
Frequently Asked Questions About Student Credit Scores
What is the average credit score for a student?
According to Credit Karma, the average credit score of people aged 18-24 is 630, which is lower than the average credit score of 714 for all ages. While this is considered a 'fair' credit score, students should consider their options to try to boost it to 'good' by the time they graduate, which can aid in job hunting, mortgage application, and financial management for any future education they pursue.
What's a good credit score for college students?
A good credit score for college students — and for anyone — would be anything 670 or over. Anything over 739 is considered 'very good,' and 800 or higher is considered 'excellent.' However, students with scores lower than 670 shouldn't feel discouraged. Many students have no credit history, and college is a great time to start building credit. Every card or loan payment made on time will continue to raise your score.
What credit score should I have at 18?
At 18, you're likely ahead of the curve if you have any credit established. Like anyone, a score of 670 or above is considered 'good.' At 18, it might be a good time to start applying for a student credit card, look into becoming an authorized user on a parent's card, and consider getting a part-time or work-study job to pay off loans while you're in school.
What is a good credit score for a 19-year-old?
A score of 670 or above is considered a 'good' credit score. By 19, many students have gotten used to college and have had their first student credit card for a while. If you don't, that's alright — now is still a great time to get one. If you can, you may want to consider buying or leasing a car to diversify your credit. Check to make sure you aren't overdoing your credit utilization.