The Dangers of Being Careless with Your Credit Score

Note from Jason Price, PT Money editor and blogger: This article is provided by the Credit Sesame Financial Research team.  Perfect scores are not necessary, but a lower score will certainly cost you.

Everyone wants a good credit score.

But why?

Not only is it a great starting point when you’re applying for credit, but it also helps you save money in the long run on things you are going to have to finance (purchasing a home).

If your credit score does not reflect responsible credit management practices, auto loans and home loans will cost you a lot more. Therefore, it is important to strive for excellence when it comes to your credit score.

Of course a credit score of 750+ is ideal, but even scores in the high 600s can help you acquire lower interest rates which will save you more money long term.

If your credit score does not reflect responsible credit management practices, auto loans and home loans will cost you a lot more.

Mortgage Loan Savings

Currently, the best interest rate for mortgages is 3.77%. In order to attain this rate for a mortgage loan you must have a credit score above 760, according to Informa Research Services (a California based firm that tracks interest rates by credit scores).

If you have a credit score of 675 it will land you a 4.38% rate which may seem like a small percentage gap, but the difference in money you will be paying out in interest is immense.

For example, when you apply a 4.38% rate to a 30 year fixed mortgage of $350,000 the monthly payment is $125 more per month compared to a 3.77% rate mortgage, leading to $45,000 paid in interest over the course of the loan.

Auto Loan Savings

While auto loans are significantly smaller in amount than mortgage loans, having a higher credit score can still save you some serious cash. While we highly recommend you save cash to buy a car so you don’t have to wrestle with car debt, lets still consider the increased cost of having a low credit score with a car loan.

According to Informa, someone with a credit score of 720 or higher will most likely get approved for an interest rate of 3.2% on a 48 month auto loan for a new car.

However, if that same customer had a credit score of 600 they would probably be given a much higher rate of approximately 13.5%. The difference?

With the higher interest rate on a $35,000 auto loan, the customer would pay $170 more per month totaling in $9,000 more in interest over the life of the loan.

While there is no difference in the car purchased at a 3.2% rate versus at a 13.5% rate, there is a huge different in the amount of money you are paying for it.

The Cost of Bad Credit: Why Low Credit Scores Cost You More

Credit scores are largely based on how financially responsible you are. Someone who has a long history of making payments on time, making payments in full, and has less overall debt is more likely to obtain lower interest rates because they are perceived as low risk borrowers.

This is in accordance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act which states that credit scores must be statistically and demonstrably sound. In other words, credit scoring models must operate and rank order consumers depending on their level of credit risk.

Using credit scores to determine different rates and terms for loans is not a new phenomena. Lending industries have been utilizing such scoring systems for decades, often referred to as “risk based lending”.

The terms are based on the riskiness level of the prospective borrower, defined by their credit scores.

Related: Get Your True FICO Credit Score from

Credit Scores and Interest Rates

Fortunately, credit scores and their respective interest rates can work in your favor. Most importantly, you do not have to have a perfect credit score of 850 to achieve the best rates lenders have to offer. Usually any score above 760 can provide you with the best rates.

It is also important to note that you do not need to have a 760 score from all three credit reporting agencies in order to get a competitive rate.

Even with a score of 700, within the 50th percentile nationally, it is likely that you will receive a competitive rate offer from most lenders.

With this information in mind, remember that the goal is to improve your credit score as much as you can.

Credit Sesame is a personal finance website that helps users do more with their credit score and manage their loans. They offer tools and tips to manage personal finance and loans in one place. No credit card is required to access the free membership.

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  1. Endre Fredriksen says:

    Last year I took car credit ant bank calculated me credit score 720, I was very surprised and satisfied, besides that I been late with few rates,
    but what I can’t figure out:
    last car I bought in 2009 I had credit score 550 and in that time i was paying all my credit rates on time.