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How To Make The Most Of Yours


The average credit score in the US just hit an all-time high of 718, according to an Oct. 30 report from FICO, the data analytics company that computes the three-digit rating. On the FICO scale, which ranges from 300 to 850, a score of 718 falls under the “good” credit category.

This news may come as a surprise, given high prices, rising interest rates and U.S. credit card debt topping $1 trillion in August. But FICO said in the report that a strong job market, slowing inflation and the removal of medical debt from credit reports have helped boost scores.

Here’s how to find out what your FICO Score is and how to make the most of it.

How to check your FICO Score for free

Many banks and credit card companies— including American Express®, Bank of America, Citibank and Discover — offer members free access to their FICO Scores.

You can also check your score using online resources like Experian Boost™, which links to your bank accounts and tracks on-time payments for recurring charges like phone bills, streaming subscriptions and rent.

Experian Boost™

On Experian’s secure site

  • Cost

  • Average credit score increase

    13 points, though results vary

  • Credit report affected

  • Credit scoring model used

Results will vary. See website for details.

How to make the most of your credit score

There are plenty of advantages to having good credit. For one, it makes it easier and cheaper to borrow money. The better your credit score, the more likely it is you’ll qualify for lower interest rates and fees on a new line of credit, whether it’s a personal or business loan, car loan or mortgage.

Top personal loan

LightStream offers low-interest loans with flexible terms for people with good credit. It’s known for providing loans in nearly every category except higher education and small business. according to the company’s website, you can take out a LightStream personal loan to buy a car, remodel the bathroom, consolidate debt or cover medical expenses.

LightStream Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    7.99% – 25.49%* APR with AutoPay

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, auto financing, medical expenses, and others

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

    24 to 144 months* dependent on loan purpose

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Terms apply. *AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. Excellent credit required for lowest rate. Rates vary by loan purpose.

Top small business loan for multiple types

With Biz2Credit, you can take out a variety of small business loans, including SBA loans, business lines of credit, equipment financing, merchant cash advances, unsecured business loans and business acquisition loans.

Biz2Credit

  • Types of loans

    SBA loan, business line of credit, equipment financing, merchant cash advance, unsecured business loans, business acquisition loans

  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating

  • Loan amounts

    Up to $6 million, depending on the type of loan

  • Terms

    Up to 25 years, depending on the type of loan

  • Minimum credit score needed

  • Minimum requirements

    Typical borrowers: in business at least 12 months and $10,000 in average monthly revenues

Top auto loan

PenFed can help you finance the purchase of a new or used car. The credit union offers affordable rates and flexible loan amounts and term lengths, and it doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty. PenFed membership is open to anyone — and to keep it active you just need to open a PenFed savings/share account with a $5 deposit and maintain a $5 balance.

PenFed Auto Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    New vehicles, used vehicles, refinancing

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

    20% of the overdue amount, up to $25

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    5 Miles per dollar on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 2X miles per dollar on every other purchase

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    $0 at the Transfer APR, 3% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer to you

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

The Wells Fargo Reflect® Card charges zero interest on both purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 21 months from account opening (after, 18.24%, 24.74%, 29.99% variable APR). We always recommend paying off your credit card balance in full each month, but if you need to carry a balance, it can be reassuring to know you have nearly two years before interest starts accruing.

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

On Wells Fargo secure site

  • Rewards

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 21 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. 18.24%, 24.74%, 29.99% variable APR thereafter.

  • Regular APR

    18.24%, 24.74%, 29.99% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Balance transfers fee of 5%, min $5.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Your credit score can even affect how much you pay for insurance. Credit-based insurance scores are different from traditional FICO Scores, but they still look at your record to help auto and homeowners insurance providers determine whom to approve and what premiums to charge. In addition to driving history and age, for example, Nationwide looks at an applicant’s payment record (including any delinquencies or late payments), types of credit and length of credit history when determining premiums.

“Studies show that using this score helps us better predict insurance losses,” the company says on its website.

Nationwide Auto Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • App available

  • Policy highlights

    Nationwide offers near-nationwide availability and personalized services, such as On Your Side® Review, a free annual insurance evaluation to ensure you are adequately protected and are taking advantage of any discounts available to you.

Bottom line

With the average FICO Score in the U.S. at a robust 718, now is a great time to see where you stand and discover if you can use your score to better your financial future.

Why trust CNBC Select?

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.





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