May 29, 2015

Activity Idea: How To Make Credit Scores Engaging!

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Yes, it is possible!  I know that most personal finance teachers don’t look forward to teaching the concept of credit scores to their high school charges.  Most students have had no experience with them and may question the relevance of this topic.  As educators, we know how important it is to get ahead of this topic BEFORE students start to borrow and develop a credit history.

⟶ Our blog post My 9 Favorite Interactives to Teach Credit is an excellent complement for this post.

So, in order to engage students on credit scores we developed this two-part inquiry-based activity (INTERACTIVE: FICO Credit Scores AND CALCULATE: Impact of Credit Score on Loans) that leads students through a four-step process:

  1. A short three-minute video highlights differences between credit reports and credit scores, in case you think your students could use a refresher
  2. Students are asked to estimate the credit scores for three college students whose detailed credit profiles are provided.
  3. Students then use a credit score simulator to determine how accurate their estimates from step #2 were.
  4. Students then use these credit scores to estimate what each of the three individuals would pay to take out a loan for their dream mini-Cooper car.  The lesson concludes by having the students calculate the cost of bad credit.

We used this activity at a workshop recently at Castilleja School in Palo Alto.  Here are a sampling of the takeaways that students had:

  • “It’s great to start building credit early.”
  • “Pay bills on time for a good credit score.”
  • “Credit scores are very important.”

Here are the concepts covered in these activities:

  • Factors that determine a credit score: payment history, amount of credit, etc. 
  • Importance of paying on-time to achieve a high credit score
  • What happens when you have no credit and are "credit invisible"
  • How a credit score plays into the interest rate paid for a loan (auto loan)
  • Impact of credit score on the cost of a car loan or mortgage

Please let us know how this worked in your classroom.  We love your feedback!!!  I can be reached at


Enjoyed these activities? Check out all the other NGPF resources (including lessons) available in our Managing Credit unit


Update (2/10/19): 

Check out our latest game, Shady Sam, where students take on the perspective of loan shark and learn all the "tricks of the trade" in how lenders seek to maximize their profits. 


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About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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