11. What would be considered a good FICO credit score?

A: I am not buying a home or a car, so I don't need to know this.
Are you kidding me? Your FICO credit score isn't just about purchases and loans. A version of your credit score is usually used to determine your car insurance rates. Cell phone companies may require you to leave a fat deposit if you have a low FICO score. And if you're a renter, landlords may check your credit score to help determine whether you'd be a responsible tenant—and they can legally deny your rental application if they don't think your score measures up.

B: Anything above 700.
A score of 700-plus is mighty fine, but since the financial crisis hit, the bar for what's considered a good credit score has gone up.

C: 740 or higher.
You're speaking my language. A FICO score between 740 and 850 is considered the gold standard.

12. A friend has $20,000 in credit card debt and the interest rate is above 20 percent. Your advice is to:

A: Pay at least the minimum due each month, and scour the budget to see if she can curb spending and pay even a bit more.
You understand the importance of making timely payments (which accounts for 35 percent of your FICO credit score), and it's smart to do everything possible to boost the payment above the minimum.

B: Take a withdrawal from her 401(k) or IRA; paying off debt that carries such a superhigh interest rate is one of the few times it's okay to borrow against your future.
It never makes sense to touch your retirement savings to pay off an unsecured debt.

C: Contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling ( to get professional advice on whether she qualifies for a debt management plan.
Sometimes the smartest way forward is to ask for help, and the counselors at the NFCC are a tremendous resource for people struggling with debt. In many cases, they can help consumers enroll in a debt-management plan administered by an NFCC counselor that helps settle debts within a five-year time frame.

Next: Take Suze's quiz—and find out what your financial age is


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