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What does a 685 credit score mean?
A credit score of 685 means that your credit reports show that you usually pay your bills on time. It indicates to lenders that you’re a low-risk borrower. In FICO and VantageScore, the main scoring models used by US credit bureaus, 685 is classed as a “good” credit score.
Here’s how your score of 685 compares with the average for different generations.
How a below-average credit score can affect your finances
Even with a good credit score, you might end up paying more for loans and other types of credit than you would if you had a score in one of the top ranges. This is because you might not qualify for the best interest rates or reap the other financial benefits of a good credit score.
Loans and Credit You Can Get with a 685 Credit Score
|Credit Type||Loan Type||Eligibility|
|Installment loans||Mortgage||Eligible for most types of mortgages, including FHA-backed mortgages with a 3.5% down payment, conventional mortgages, VA loans, and USDA loans|
|Car loan||Eligible, but you’ll have to pay a higher interest rate|
|Private student loan||Usually eligible without a cosigner|
|Personal loan||Usually eligible|
|Revolving credit||Unsecured credit card||Eligible, though you might not get the best interest rates|
|Secured credit card||Eligible|
|Personal line of credit||Usually ineligible|
|Open credit||Cell phone contract||Usually eligible without a deposit|
|Utilities (gas, electricity, etc.)||Eligible, but you may need to pay a deposit if you’ve previously had any late payments|
|Charge cards||Sometimes eligible|
In addition to determining what types of credit you’re eligible for, your credit score can affect your life in other ways. For instance, a bad credit score can limit your job prospects and your options for renting an apartment because many landlords and employers run credit checks. Employers probably won’t see your actual numerical score, but they will be able to see the negative items in your credit history that contributed to it.
Your credit score can also affect how much you pay for services like insurance. Thankfully, a 685 credit score shouldn’t negatively affect your life.
However, if you want the very best rates and terms on your loans and credit cards, then you might want to further improve your credit score. This is easy to do once you understand how credit scores work and how they’re calculated.
How your 685 credit score was calculated
As mentioned earlier, the two main credit scoring models are FICO and VantageScore. Although the two models have minor differences, both calculate credit scores based on the following factors:
- Payment history: Late payments lower your credit score. The later the payment, the more damage it will do. Charge-offs, collection accounts, and bankruptcies are even more damaging to your score.
- Credit utilization rate: This refers to the proportion of your available credit that you’re using (also known as your debt-to-credit ratio). A lower utilization rate is better for your credit score. Many experts recommend keeping yours below 30% (meaning you should try not to reach a $3,000 balance on a credit card with a $10,000 limit). VantageScore recommends keeping your credit utilization even lower, under 10% if possible. 1
- Length of credit history: This is determined by the age of your oldest and newest credit accounts as well as the average age of all of your accounts. Old accounts that you’ve had for many years boost your credit score, whereas new accounts lower it.
- Credit mix: Your credit score will be lower if you don’t have a balanced mix of revolving credit accounts (e.g., credit cards and store credit) and installment accounts (e.g., mortgages, car loans, and student loans).
- New accounts: When you apply for a credit card or loan, the lender will run a credit check. This will trigger a hard inquiry Hard inquiries take a few points off your credit score, and the effect lasts for up to 12 months. 2 Actually opening the account can further hurt your score and have even longer-lasting effects.
A credit score of 685 indicates that you have a relatively good credit history. Nevertheless, one of the following factors may be keeping you from attaining a higher score:
- Derogatory marks: A derogatory mark (negative item on your payment history, such as a missed payment or collection account) can have a major and long-lasting negative effect on your credit score.
- Insufficient credit history: A thin credit file can bring down your credit score even if you don’t have many derogatory marks. It could be that you haven’t used your credit enough to establish a positive enough payment history or that you don’t have a good mix of different types of credit.
The good news is that you can recover from both situations. However, before you worry about improving your credit score, it’s important to make sure you’re not doing anything to damage it.
To maintain your good credit score, follow these tips:
- Pay all of your bills on time.
- Avoid opening any new credit accounts (unless you actually need them).
- Avoid closing old accounts.
- Send a debt validation letter demanding proof of any future debts that anyone tries to collect from you according to your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
VantageScore vs. FICO credit score calculation methods
VantageScore and FICO take the same factors into account to produce your score, but they weigh them slightly differently (which is why you might have different credit scores in the two models). Here are just a couple of the differences between FICO and VantageScore: 3
- VantageScore groups the length of your credit history and your credit mix into one category called Depth of Credit.
- In addition to your credit utilization (represented as a percentage), VantageScore also looks at your current balances and your remaining available credit (represented as dollar figures).
The tables below show how the models weigh your financial decisions to produce your score:
|Payment History||Amounts Owed||Length of Credit History||Credit Mix||New Credit|
|Payment History||Credit Utilization||Depth of Credit||Recent Credit||Balances||Available Credit|
Putting your 685 score in context: how it compares to other scores
The table below shows the average VantageScore and FICO credit scores among US consumers, as well as your credit rating in each of these models and how far your 685 credit score is from the next scoring category.
|Your Rating||Points to Rating Upgrade||Points to Rating Downgrade||Average Score in US|
How to improve your 685 credit score
A 685 score is pretty good, but it still has room for improvement. You should look into methods that you can use to give your score a quick boost, as well as strategies to build your score in the long run.
Improving your 685 score quickly
If you’re planning on applying for a new credit account in the near future, you’ll want to boost your score as much (and as quickly) as possible beforehand to get the best possible interest rate. You can build your credit fast with these strategies:
- Pay down your balances on your credit accounts as much as possible, especially your credit cards. This will improve your credit score almost immediately.
- Make sure that you have both credit cards and loans. If you don’t have an active loan, consider applying for a credit-builder loan.
- Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request copies of your credit reports. Check these for errors, such as debts that don’t actually belong to you.
- Dispute any errors you find on your credit reports, focusing on derogatory marks, such as late payments.
- If you have any remaining (legitimate) negative marks, write to your creditors and/or debt collectors and see if you can negotiate with them to delete the items. To do this, request a goodwill deletion or negotiate pay for delete.
With a credit score of 685, it’s unlikely that you have any serious derogatory marks on your credit reports, and it’s possible you don’t have any at all. However, if you do, removing them is by far your best bet for improving your credit score quickly.
Building your credit score of 685 in the long run
Once you’ve completed the steps above (whichever ones apply to your situation), it’s time to settle in for the long game. Review your knowledge of how to build your credit over time. Your 685 score provides a solid base to start from, and if you cultivate good, sustainable habits, it’s sure to improve even further.
To build your credit, be sure to:
- Add positive information to your credit reports by using your credit cards to make moderate-sized purchases and by paying off your credit cards in full every month. If you don’t have any active credit accounts, you can apply for some; we’ve listed several options that make sense given your credit score of 685 below.
- Take steps to get out of debt, especially high-interest debt. Having an active loan (such as a mortgage) isn’t a bad thing, but you should avoid credit card debt if at all possible.
- Add some of your regular bill payments to your credit reports using Experian Boost or a third-party service that lets you get credit for your monthly rental payments, such as PayYourRent or eCredable.
The most important thing is not to slip up by accidentally missing a payment on one of your credit accounts. Because your score of 685 is relatively good, even one late payment could knock your score down by dozens of points, potentially landing you back in the range of fair credit scores and forcing you to take emergency steps to fix your credit.
Life with a 685 credit score
Unless there are major errors on your credit report that have caused a drop in your credit score, it might take a few months before your score is high enough to qualify you for the best rates and terms on loans and other types of credit. However, you will have a lot more options than someone with bad credit.
Getting auto loans with a 685 credit score
There is no credit score too low to get an auto loan, and you’ll be able to get one when your credit score is 685. However, if you want the best interest rates on the market, you’ll probably need to wait until you get your score a bit higher.
According to a 2020 quarterly report by Experian, people with credit scores of 661–780 (referred to as prime borrowers) had average interest rates of 5.59% on their used car loans and 3.69% on new car loans, whereas people with credit scores of 781–850 (super-prime borrowers) received average rates of 3.80% and 2.65%. 4 Although this is a relatively small difference, waiting until your score improves could still potentially save you hundreds of dollars on a car loan.
If you’re set on getting an auto loan right now, then pay as large of a down payment as you can afford and consider getting prequalified or applying for a preapproval from your bank or credit union to increase your bargaining power.
Getting a mortgage with a 685 credit score
You’re eligible for any type of standard mortgage if you have a credit score of 685. The following are all the mortgages you can get:
- FHA loan: Your credit score qualifies you for maximum financing (a down payment of only 3.5%) on a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). It’s worth noting that you won’t be eligible for an FHA-backed loan if you had a foreclosure in the past three years or filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past two years. 5
- Conventional mortgage: Most lenders will consider giving you a mortgage because your credit score is above 620, which is the minimum score required by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). 6 7
- VA loan: The US Department of Veteran Affairs backs VA home loans, which are exclusively for members of the military (both current and former) and their families, and they don’t impose a minimum required credit score. 8 They instead leave it up to lenders, most of whom will be willing to issue you a mortgage with a credit score of 685.
- USDA loan: As long as you have two tradelines that have been open for 12 months in the past two years, you’ll meet the credit requirements for a USDA loan because your credit score is above 640. 9 However, you won’t be eligible if you have an outstanding judgment, and you might have a hard time qualifying if your credit history shows a foreclosure, bankruptcy, or debt settlement in the past 36 months.
Renting with a 685 credit score
You often need a credit score to rent a house or apartment since many landlords run credit checks on prospective tenants. Thankfully, you should have no problem passing a credit check with a credit score of 685.
Getting a credit account with a 685 credit score
With a credit score of 685, you’ll have plenty of options when looking for a new credit card. However, you might not qualify for the top rates that card issuers reserve for people in higher credit score ranges.
The types of credit cards you can get with a credit score of 685 generally fall into two categories:
- Secured credit cards: These cards require a security deposit, which your lender will use as collateral. The amount you put down will usually be your credit limit. Secured cards are a low-risk option if you want to build credit while ensuring that you don’t spend beyond your means.
- Unsecured credit cards: These cards don’t require a deposit. Your card issuer will set your credit limit according to how creditworthy they perceive you to be. In many cases, these cards offer cash back on certain purchases and other rewards.
Which type of credit card is best ultimately depends on your financial situation and your reason for opening a new credit account. If you’re good at controlling your spending, then it’s a good idea to use your good credit score to take advantage of the potential rewards and higher credit limit that come with an unsecured card.
On the other hand, if your main goal is to build credit and you’re worried about overspending, then a secured credit card may be your best bet.
Don’t apply for a credit card if you know you don’t meet the company’s requirements—both in terms of your credit score and other factors they might consider. Most applications will trigger a “hard inquiry,” which will cause your credit score to temporarily drop and may increase the likelihood that your next credit card application will be rejected. To find out if the card issuer has a minimum credit score, check their website or give them a call.