What is a good credit score and how to get (or keep) one


Since the economic crisis killed off all of that easy-to-acquire credit that flourished like so much financial kudzu a few years ago, Americans are more concerned than ever about their credit scores. Although scores can go as high as 850, very few people ever attain that "perfect" credit. You're not alone if you're wondering: What is a good credit score, anyway?

Well, for starters, it's a lot higher than it used to be. Earlier this decade, you could easily get credit with a score of 650 or so, and 720 was top-of-the-line. Today, the "new" 650 is around a 720. For big loans such as a mortgage or car loan, lenders may want to see a score of 750 - a full 100 points higher than the norm that characterized the borrowing spree of the boom years.

Now that having a higher credit score is necessary if you want to borrow money at less-than-onerous terms, Walletpop talked to a few credit experts to get their top tips on how to get - or keep - a gold star-worthy score. Here's the inside scoop from Evan Henricks, author of the book Credit Scores & Credit Reports: How the System Really Works, What You Can Do; Gail Hillebrand, financial services campaign manager at Consumers Union, and Craig Watts, public affairs director of FICO.