About the FICO Credit Score
Because we live in an automated, it's probably not that surprising that your creditworthiness boils down to one number.
The FICO score is created by credit reporting agencies. These agencies use the payment history from all of your loans: credit cards, mortgages, car loans and others.
All three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a 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 these methods vary, all of the agencies use the following to calculate a credit score:
- Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for a short time?
- History of Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
- Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of giving you a loan?
These factors are weighted differently depending on the formula being used. The result is a single number: your FICO score. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most borrowers getting a mortgage loan have a score above 620.
Credit scores make a big difference in interest rates
Credit 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.
Improving your score
What can you do to improve your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the score is calculated from your lifelong credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. You should, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit problems.
How do I find out my credit score?
In order to improve your FICO score, you must get the credit reports that are used to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. 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 from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are information and tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.
You can get a free credit report once per 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.
Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the right mortgage for you.
Want to know more about credit scores? Call us at (334) 285-8850.