About the FICO Credit Score

Since our world is so computer-driven, it should come as no surprise that your creditworthiness comes down to a single number. Credit reporting agencies use your payment history to compile this score.

Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, the three major credit agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building your credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . 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, all of the agencies use the following to calculate your credit score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many credit card accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary a a little from one agency to another. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.

FICO makes a difference in your interest rate

Did you know? FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Higher scores indicate you are probably a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Can I raise my FICO score?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Since the credit score is entirely based on your lifelong credit history, it's very difficult to make a significant improvement in the score with quick fixes. (Of course you can and should appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Getting your credit score

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to obtain your score and be sure that the 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 credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies. They also provide helpful information and online tools that can help you understand how to improve your credit score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting agencies at 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 most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about your credit score? Give us a call: (707) 252-2700.

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