Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?
Since we live in an automated, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to one number.
All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.
Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building your 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; all of the agencies use the following in building your score:
- Your Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for a short time?
- Late Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
- Credit Card Balances - How many credit card accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
- Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?
These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly by agency. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is better. Most borrowers who want to get a mortgage these days have a score above 620.
Your credit score affects your interest rate
FICO scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.
Raising your FICO 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. You must remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.
Getting your credit score
Before you can improve your score, you have to obtain 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. 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 tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.
You can get a free credit report every year from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting 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 right mortgage for you.
Curious about your credit score? Give us a call at 214-300-8756.