How FICO Credit Scores Are Calculated

Since our world is so computer-driven, you're probably not surprised to hear that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to a single number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building your credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While the formulas vary, each agency uses the following to calculate a credit score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

Each of these is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which varies slightly from one agency to another. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is always better. Typical home buyers will probably find their credit scores falling above 620.

Credit scores make a huge difference in your interest rate

Did you know? FICO 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.

Can I raise my FICO score?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is based on your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You should, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data on your credit report; this is really the only "quick fix" for credit problems.

Getting your FICO score

Before you can improve your credit score, you have to get your score and make sure that the credit reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can get your FICO score from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and online tools that help you improve your credit score.

You can get a free credit report every year from all three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

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

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