What it is: Your credit score is a numerical evaluation of your credit worthiness, based on your past performance (amount of debt, length of credit history, new credit applied for, payment history, and so on).
Why you should care about it: Credit reports, which generally range from 300 to 850, represent our worthiness as borrowers. Lenders always refer to this score to decide whether to qualify us for loans and at which interest rates. To qualify for the lowest rate on any bank loan―say, a car loan or a mortgage―it helps to have the strongest credit score possible: at least 720 or better. A score of 650 to 700 is considered above average.
How to get it: Go to myfico.com, a site operated by Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), the company that originated the credit-score system most lenders use. A report from one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) costs about $15; scores from all three cost around $45. For a free annual credit report (this will not include your credit score), log on to annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228.