How's your FICO Score?

Because our world is so computer-driven, it's probably not that surprising that your creditworthiness boils down to one number. The FICO score is created by credit reporting agencies. They use the payment history from all of your loans: credit cards, mortgages, car/boat loans etcetera.

All three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a score. The original FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. 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 these methods vary, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following factors to build your score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Have you paid more than 30 days late?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The result is a single number: your credit score. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.

Credit scores make a difference in interest rates

Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.

Improving your score

How can you raise your credit score? So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the score is formulated from your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you must remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

How do I find out my FICO score?

In order to raise your credit score, you've got to get the credit reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the corporation that offered the original FICO credit score, offers scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with credit reports from all three agencies. Also available are helpful information and online tools that can help you improve your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is quick and inexpensive.

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

Want to know more about your FICO score? Give us a call at 562 320-0510.

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