How's your FICO Score?

Because our world is so automated, you're probably not surprised to hear that your ability to repay virtually any loan boils down to a single number. The FICO score is created by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history from your various loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle/boat loans, credit cards, etcetera.

All three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a 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 the formulas vary, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following factors in calculating a credit score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for just a short time?
  • Late Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted slightly differently depending on which formula the agency uses. The result is a single number: your FICO score. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is better. Most borrowers getting a mortgage have a score above 620.

FICO makes a big difference in your interest rate

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.

Improving your score

Is there any way to raise your FICO score? So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the FICO score is based on your lifetime credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. You must, of course, remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report; this is the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.

Getting your credit score

Before you can improve your credit score, you must get your score and be sure that the credit reports from each reporting 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 along with reports from all three agencies. They also provide information and online tools that can help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once a year from the three major agencies when you visit 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'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call: 3038627760.