About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in a computer-driven world, it's probably not that surprising that your creditworthiness comes down to a single number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

The three agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following in building a score:

  • Your Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many credit card accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

Your credit score greatly affects your monthly payment

Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are probably a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Raising your credit score

Is there any way to raise your FICO score? Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the score is based on your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Know your FICO

Before you can improve your FICO score, you must get your score and ensure that the credit reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the corporation that offered the original FICO credit score, offers credit scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three credit reporting agencies. Also available are helpful information and tools that help you improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from all three agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.

Armed with this info, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

Curious about credit scores? Call us: (800) 288-9693.

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