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For most people, a mortgage loan is where they'll reap the greatest rewards from an improved credit score. "For the past two or three years, mortgages have been the lowest in 30 or 40 years, but that doesn't apply to everybody," says Janette E. Jones, mortgage consultant for American Home Mortgage in Bethesda, Md. "That applies to people who have excellent credit. Someone who has excellent credit can actually get a fixed-rate loan for 5.5%. However, for people who have less-than-excellent credit -- and I would say that's anything below 650 (on the FICO scale of 300 to 850) -- they're looking at an interest rate that's 1% higher, at the bare

Loans and scores

What is a credit score

A credit score is a three-digit number based on a borrower’s bill-paying history and debt profile and statistical information about other borrowers that lenders use to determine the likelihood of certain credit behaviors, including whether you will pay on time.

Your credit score is key information that you need to have a complete understanding of your credit profile.

Your credit score will have an important impact on the interest rate you will pay to borrow money.

Knowing your credit score allows you to question the accuracy of the score and to negotiate the best rates with lenders.

A credit score is not included in a consumer credit report and must be purchased separately.

A consumer credit reporting agency must sell you a credit score but can charge you a reasonable fee.

Increasingly, credit scores are being used for purposes other than determining whether you will default on a loan or make late payments. For example, some insurers are using low credit scores, as indicators to identify individuals they believe are more likely to make claims against their insurance policies. These insurance companies maintain that there is a correlation between poor credit and filing multiple insurance claims. There have been challenges to these practices and legislative attempt to ban this practice. Nonetheless, the practice persists. An accurate credit score can make the difference not only in interest rates charged on loans, but also on the availability and cost of insurance, an important essential for most families. 

It's not just a number. Failing to take steps to improve your credit score could cost you hundreds or thousands of extra dollars on a home loan, a car payment or a credit card or insurance bill.

Sure, you know your credit score can affect everything from whether you qualify for a mortgage to whether an employer hires you, but have you ever made a plan to consciously improve your score? If not, it can be costing you dearly.

"When it comes to mortgages, auto lending and credit cards, the higher your score, the lower the interest rate you're going to pay," says Barry Paperno, manager of customer service for credit-scoring company Fair Isaac, which created the widely used FICO credit score. So the time and effort it takes to improve your credit score could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime.Type your paragraph here.


What bad credit really costs you