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Dr. Don issues his FICO letter grades

Dear Dr. Don,
I read about credit levels as being excellent, good, fair, etc. What scores are relative to these levels?
-- Confused Keith

Dear Keith,
I use the distinctions made on the Web site, where they also show how interest rates vary for different types of loans based on your credit score.

While a credit score can range from 300 to 900 points, it's pretty unusual to see a credit score below 500 or above 850.

Dr. Don's credit score grades
FICO scoreDr. Don's
letter grade

A credit score is based on the information in your credit report. The scoring model is based on five factors. The graphic below shows the factors and the weights for each factor.

Bankrate has partnered with to provide you with a free estimate of your credit score using the " FICO Score Estimator." For more details on credit reports and credit scoring, download the booklet, " Understanding your FICO score."

All three of the major consumer reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- have credit scores associated with their credit reports. Because a credit score is based on the information in a credit report, these scores will vary based on the scoring models and information in the credit report. Creditors aren't obligated to report your payment history to all of the credit reporting agencies.

What makes up your credit score?

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