Neil Offen

You need an umpire to keep your credit score — Neil Offen

Your credit score, which is also known as your FICO because FIDO was already taken as the name for your dog, is derived from a complex mathematical formula to determine how creditworthy you are.

Those factors that make up your credit score include, among much else, your payment history, how much debt you are carrying, whether you have ever left a tip that was below seven percent of the bill and how big a permanent bulge your wallet is making in your back pocket. Your credit score can determine whether you can buy a house or if you are even allowed into a house where money might be lying around on the kitchen table.

So it’s important. And yet most of us know little about what those FICO numbers actually mean. Here, then, is your credit score explained:

▪  0-300: This score is so low not only will banks not lend you money, but libraries won’t lend you a book. The credit companies have determined that you do not have any dollars and they’re pretty sure you think that a euro is a car made in the former Yugoslavia.

▪  301-450: A credit score in this range is considered “bad credit,” and probably means that you have a history of late payments and also may have absconded to Argentina with money you took from a blind newsie. With a score like this, if you wanted to buy, say, a new car, you would only receive three wheels. Most likely, the car radio would have just one AM station and it would always be playing the same song. By The Captain and Tennille.

▪  451-600: This is considered an average credit score. It means you might be able to get a good mortgage rate if you were buying a house, but the house would be next door to a 24-hour bagpipe practice facility. Also, to guarantee that good rate, you probably would be required to write an excellent personal essay, detailing your plans for how to achieve world peace, and have better SAT scores.

▪  601-725: You should be pleased that the credit-rating companies have determined they are willing to lend you money at an exorbitant interest rate, which will enable you to pay back your loan as soon as you hit the lottery.

▪  726-849: An excellent score, you have shown an ability to manage your money and balance your checkbook, even though you don’t use a checkbook anymore and just pay all your bills online despite believing you are not dealing with real money. You also have convincingly resisted any impulse purchases of fidget spinners and prefer, more cheaply and wisely, fidgeting on your own.

▪  850: This is considered a perfect score, and is likely to even get you into an Ivy. However, it’s important to note that even a perfect score will not be enough to allow you to buy a Lamborghini. For that, you will need to speak Italian.

Neil Offen can be reached at Past columns can be found at