credit

With my credit score, what interest rates?

Don TaylorDear Dr. Don,
I understand that the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate. My question: Is there a standard scale for interest rates based on your credit score?

Thanks,
-- Jamison Rates-Jump

Credit score gauge © iStock

Dear Jamison,
First, thank you for asking a good question aimed at ensuring you get the best deals on financial transactions.

As it turns out, there's no universal standard. But, a lender determines what kind of risk premium it will add to a loan based on your credit history and the information in your loan application. You can't take a lender's advertised interest rate for its best qualified borrowers and tack on a set premium because you're a C credit instead of an A credit.

Credit scores and your rates

As one example, MyFico.com does show how mortgage rates vary by different credit score ranges. As I write this, the site shows that the national average annual percentage rate, or APR, on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for a person with a FICO score between 760 and 850 is 3.77%. For a person with a credit score between 620 and 639, the national average APR is 5.36%. The difference in interest rates shows why it's so important to get your credit history on track before applying for a loan.

You can check your credit score for free at myBankrate.

Credit histories and time

A credit score is determined by the information in your credit report. Most negative information, with the exception of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, drops off your credit report after seven years. A Chapter 7 filing stays on your credit report for 10 years. Also, information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.

Compare interest rates in your area.

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To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select one of these topics: "Financing a home," "Saving & Investing" or "Money." Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice.

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