You Credit Score- How's Your FICO?

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Since we live in an automated world, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to a single number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying all types of loans in order to create this score.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "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 factors to build a credit score:

  • Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for just a short time?
  • Late Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you have? How much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which may vary a a little from one agency to another. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 850. Higher is better. Most people who want to get a mortgage loan in the current environment score 620 or above.

Not just for qualifying

FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.

Raising your 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 score is built on your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you must appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Know your FICO

In order to raise your credit score, you must get the credit reports that the agencies use 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. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three agencies. They also provide information and tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

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

Armed with this information, 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? Give us a call: (608) 372-9222.