You Credit Score: How's Your FICO?

Because our society is so automated, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay virtually any loan boils down to a single number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle 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.

TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have a proprietary formula for building your credit score. The original FICO 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following to calculate your credit score:

  • Your Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you carry? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

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. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

FICO makes a big 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.

Raising your credit score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you can and should appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

To improve your score, you must have the credit reports that are used to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac, the company that invented 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 credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies. Also available are information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from all three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free credit 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 right mortgage for you.

Curious about credit scores? Call us at 214-300-8756.



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