There are some things you need to know before you apply for credit. It is always a good idea to audit yourself and find out exactly where you stand. But first, you should understand that your score is generally based on a scaling system that may be specific to each lender. That means what you see on your own audit through one major credit reporting bureau, such as Experian or TransUnion, may not represent the actual score that potential lenders will see. Still, maintaining your score by these reports and learning the areas to in which to improve are extremely beneficial to your overall credit standing.

A decent credit score will typically be in a range of 600-700 points, and anything over that shows an excellent standing, providing you a great advantage for obtaining further credit. It’s also helpful to pay close attention to the things that can create negative impacts on your score. This includes such things as lawsuits or judgments made against you, or even something as simple as payment delinquencies. Learn more about all the things that can prevent lenders from approving your credit application. Be sure to report any errors on your account by writing to the agency and providing all the necessary supporting documentation to have it removed.

The criteria that lenders use to make their decisions depend on several factors, beyond just that of your reported score. They will look for idiosyncrasies in your habits, like how often you make payments and how often you have hits on your account. Understand that hard hits, such as when you apply for credit with a major lender, and especially when you are not approved, will leave a negative mark and hurt your credit more than soft hits like your own credit checks. It’s best to do your research, understand your score, and identify your full credit history so you know exactly where you will stand on your next credit application.