August 11th, 2010

Beyond Your Credit Score: What Three Digits Says About You

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Whether you’re flying high with a credit score in the 800s or laying low in the 600s, you aren’t alone. Credit Karma compared the credit profiles of over 200,000 consumers with similar credit scores and found that the average Joe and Jane in the same credit score range share more than just three digits in common. Click to enlarge the infographic below and see what your credit score may say about you and your peers.

Credit Karma Infographic

The infographic shows what kind of financial doors and credit habits the average consumer in each credit score range has. But keep in mind that when it comes to credit scores, correlation isn’t causality. For example, the infographic shows that people with a high credit score generally also carry a large amount of debt. It might then be easy to think you need excessive debt to have a good credit score. But that isn’t the case at all. The truth is that people with good credit have the score to qualify for credit cards with high limits, loans, and a mortgage, and thus can accumulate large amounts of debt. Poor credit consumers, on the other hand, don’t have a low credit score because they don’t have more debt; they simply don’t have the credit score to even access those kinds of financial opportunities.

Here’s a short guide to understanding the infographic, and how you can use it help make your own credit score soar.

Open Accounts. Having more open credit accounts is good for your credit. You should always consider this credit aspect before closing your old accounts, which can damage your credit score.

Total Debt. It’s credit myth that you need to take out loans or have lots of debt to have good credit. That simply isn’t true. You will notice that people with 800+ credit score actually have less debt that those with 700-799 credit score. There is no exact correlation that more debt equals better credit, but the reality is that only people with good credit can accumulate debt.

On-Time Payments. Paying on time is one of the top drivers of a great credit score. Whether you have a few credit lines or many types of credit, paying all of them on-time is almost a guarantee for a good credit score.

Number of Credit Cards. Credit cards are an easy way to build credit. Contrary to popular belief, carrying a balance or paying interest isn’t what benefits your credit score. Simply using your card once a month and paying on-time is the key to building good credit. There are many people who have never paid a single cent of interest and still have pristine credit by properly using their credit cards.

Total Debt and Utilization. People with good credit actually use a much smaller percentage of their total available credit. Similar to the way they handle debt, good credit consumers know how to manage credit responsibly by keeping their credit card utilization low. For example, people with a credit score in the 800+ range are only using 5% of their credit limits, whereas people with a score in the <500 range are using over 100%.

Lastly, it is important to mention that all of these numbers are averaged and there are still differences across all metrics.

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. Next step for improving my credit paid off collection an no credit cards Trans unions setting @ 654…..
    I currently do not have any bills that are affecting my credit and I paid off the last old collection bill I owed, How do I improve my score at this point if i have no bills that are reporting to the agencies?

    Starrthepixie81 at 5:18 pm on August 11, 2010
  2. Excellent advice. My blog is for people who have damaged credit (I hate the tern “bad” credit though that’s the name of our site. We always emphasize the 30% rule if you want to raise your credit score.

    Dewey Kearney at 10:09 am on August 18, 2010
  3. I’d like to find out more? I’d want to find out
    some additional information.

    money choice at 4:13 pm on April 11, 2013
  4. How much score is the Minimum to get a Credit?

    Mike at 11:45 am on April 12, 2014
  5. Mike

    Hi Mike – Good question. There is no strict minimum required to get credit in general, though the types of offers you receive will vary by your score. You can find personalized offers based on your score on your Credit Karma account here:

    Mike at 11:04 am on April 14, 2014
  6. I have had two accounts in collection for about four years . Total of the two accounts outstanding is $1001.
    I have refused To pay them as they were for services performed that were faulty or not completed.
    I have taken great effort to raise my scores from 550 to the current status, 691 and 700.
    I read somewhere that it makes no sense to pay them off now after all this time.
    Any thoughts on that.

    David Burgan at 4:22 pm on February 4, 2015

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