Your Credit Score: The Magic Number Explained

What you pay for a house, a car, clothes, even groceries, will likely depend on three digits you probably don't even know. Your credit score, explained.

By Beth Kobliner from Reader's Digest | October 2009

Better Score, Cheaper House If a family put a 3.5% down payment on a $172,900 four-bedroom house in Greenville, South Carolina, they would take out a loan for $166,850. Here’s what their true bottom line would look like.

Score          Rate            Payment          Cost 760+          4.981%       $893.75         $326,900 700–759     5.203          $916.50         $335,090 680–699     5.380          $934.83         $341,689 660–679     5.594          $957.22         $349,749 640–659     6.024          $1,002.93      $366,205 620–639     6.570          $1,062.30      $387,578

Less than 620: It will be tough to get a loan at all.

Better Score, Cheaper Car A buyer puts $3,000 down on a $25,605 2009 Honda Accord EX-L sedan and finances the rest over 60 months. Here’s his true bottom line.

Score           Rate             Payment   Cost 720+          6.42%         $441.45     $29,487 690–719     7.88            $457.05     $30,423 660–689     9.86            $478.73     $31,724 620–659     12.79          $511.91     $33,715 590–619     17.64          $569.60     $37,176 500–589     18.43          $579.32     $37,759

Less than 500: It will be tough to get a loan at all.

What’s Your Score? Print this quiz for a quick estimate of how lenders are likely to rate your credit.

Beth Kobliner is the author of Get a Financial Life and a contributor to National Public Radio’s The Takeaway. Reach her at bethkobliner.com.