How Good Is a Credit Score of 681?

FT Contributor
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A score of 681 is considered “Good” on the FICO scale of 300 to 850. Not only are you likely to qualify for loans at competitive rates, but you are also just 59 points away from a “Very Good” rating (740 to 799).

While a 681 credit score is technically “Good,” there are still many lenders with higher requirements for some of their most attractive loans. You may also not qualify for some premium credit and rewards cards with this score.

Also, lenders may view you differently depending on whether your score is on its way up or headed downward.

Here is what you can expect if your credit score is 681.

Why Your Credit Score Is 681

If you are unsure why your credit score is 681, you can easily order an annual credit report to obtain the necessary information.

Is a 681 credit score good? Yes, but a lot depends on whether the credit score is improving or headed downward.

If your score was once better than 681, you might have made a few mistakes here and there. On the other hand, if it’s on its way up, you likely have good credit habits that will help you increase or maintain your score.

Each person is different, so the exact reason for your score will depend on your situation and financial practices. However, some general issues affect many people.

Your Payment History

If your credit score has been increasing, you’ve probably been making your payments on time, and you have already corrected any late payments or delinquent accounts.

On the other hand, if you’ve been late with payments (delinquency) or missing them altogether (defaults), then your rating has been dropping. Since your score is still in the Good range, the issues likely haven’t gotten too bad yet.

However, you need to make your payments current and make at least minimum payments on any existing balances. A string of late payments or default could quickly move you into bad credit score territory.

Your Credit Utilization

Credit utilization is your credit balance as a percentage of your credit limit. This can be calculated for individual accounts, as well as for all your accounts together.

Say, for example, that you have a total credit limit of $10,000 on five cards with a total balance (what you owe) of $3,500. In this instance, your credit utilization is 35% (your $3,500 balance expressed as a percentage of your $10,000 limit).

The closer your credit utilization is to 100%, the more your score suffers. You might have risen to 681 because you have been reducing your utilization rate. If your score was above 681 and has dropped, an increasing utilization percentage may be a clue about why.

The Length of Your Credit History

The longer your credit history, the easier it is for reporting agencies to form an accurate picture of your creditworthiness. There is a chance that you are over 30 years old and have a credit score of 681 simply because you have a long credit history.

In that case, time is on your side. By improving your credit habits, you can take it even higher. You do not want to close old credit accounts because it can negatively impact your credit score and cancel out the positive history you have built. If you do close accounts, only do so with good reason.

Undisputed Negatives on Your Report

In some cases, you may have false negatives on your report. For example, a loan installment you paid goes unreported. In that case, make sure to dispute these negatives and have them removed from your record. Taking this step could immediately increase your score to the Very Good or Exceptional range.

Recent Credit Applications

Any time you apply for a credit card or loan, you trigger a “hard inquiry,” where a lender requests your score and possibly your credit history from the reporting agencies.

Such hard inquiries can leave a dent in your score in the short term. That said, your score can bounce back in a few months if you continue good credit management habits.

What Can You Do With a 681 Credit Score?

What type of financial activities can you undertake with a 681 credit score? Here are some common examples.

Mortgages

It should be fairly easy to get a mortgage or home loan with a 681 credit score. You may have to do some credit repair, depending on the requirements of your lender, but it is usually minimal, and you will likely get approved.

You may not, however, get the lowest possible rate on the mortgage, because those are usually reserved for 740-plus credit scores.

At the same time, you will qualify for decent interest rates that are far lower than those offered on bad credit loans.

Auto Loans

It is also easy to get a car loan with a 681 credit score. You may not get perks like a 0% intro rate or lower auto insurance premiums, but you will likely get quick approval for the loan.

If you would like access to better rates and 0% offers, consider improving your score.

Reward Cards

You can get most credit cards with a 681 rating. However, you likely won’t qualify for high-end rewards cards that offer a large initial points bonus. The best rewards are for those with a 740 or above score.

Personal Loans

You may or may not qualify for a personal loan, depending on the lender’s requirements. If you do get one, the interest charged won’t be the lowest, but it also won’t be as high as the interest rate on bad-credit personal loans.

How to Improve a 681 Credit Score

Fortunately, improving a 681 credit score isn’t very difficult since you already have a solid financial base from which to work.

Below are some of the things you can do to raise your score to 740 or higher.

  • Dispute any negatives.
    • If you find inaccurate negative information on your credit report, and you can prove that it is false, be sure to dispute it. If there are more complex issues, you can hire a credit repair company to act on your behalf.
  • Take care of any late payments.
    • If you have past-due accounts, pay off the balance or at least make the minimum payment and take care of any additional fees. This step can minimize the effect on your score.
  • Reduce your credit utilization rate.
    • Maintain a credit utilization rate of 30% or less. You can do this by paying multiple times a month or making larger payments on due dates.
  • Avoid opening new accounts or closing old ones unnecessarily.
    • Hard inquiries will negatively impact your score in the short term. Closing old accounts also robs you of the goodwill you’ve already built up through a long credit history. Avoid closing or opening accounts unless you have a reason to do so.

With these practices, it is possible to improve your credit score even further.


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