The interest rate paid in exchange for granting credit reflects the purpose of a loan and the degree of risk your credit score poses to a lender. Your credit score, which usually ranges between 300 and 850 points depending on the model a lender uses, reflects data that paints a picture of how much experience you have in the credit market and how well you manage debt. In general, the better your credit score is, the lower your interest rate will be. However, there are ways to estimate a potential interest rate more closely.
Score Cutoff Ranges
Most lenders use Fair Isaac Corporation credit scores to evaluate your risk potential. According to the MyFICO Loan Savings Calculator for home and auto loans, it’s possible to estimate the interest you might pay based on a range of credit scores.
The minimum credit score for a home loan is about 620 points. Although FICO credit scoring tiers and rates vary between lenders, you generally can expect interest rates to vary about 1.50 percent or higher between the highest and lowest tiers of credit scores. For example, according to Bankrate, in 2012 the average difference in the annual percentage rate between the highest tier -- about 760 to 850 points -- and the lowest tier -- about 620 to 639 points -- was 1.59 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
The starting credit score for an auto loan is about 500 points -- below that, you'll have a hard time finding financing at all. In general, you expect interest rates to change by as much as 12 percent in total and become increasingly higher as your credit score drops. Common tiers that determine credit scores fall between:
- 720 to 850
- 690 to 719
- 660 to 689
- 620 to 659
- 590 to 619
- 500 to 589
As your credits score moves up and down among those tiers, your rate quotes will rise and fall accordingly.
Estimating interest rates based on your credit score can be more difficult for personal loans. While average interest rates vary about six percent between the highest and lowest qualifying scores with some lenders, they can vary as much as 20 percent or more with other lenders.