Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

Since we live in an automated, it should come as no surprise that your creditworthiness boils down to a single number. This score is created by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history of all of your loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle loans, credit cards, etcetera.

All three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a 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 these methods vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following factors in building a score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are weighted a little bit differently depending on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly from one agency to another. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? FICO scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are probably a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Improving your score

What can you do to raise your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is based on your lifetime credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. (Of course you can and should remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Know your FICO

Before you can improve your score, you have to get your score and make certain that the credit reports from each credit reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the original FICO score, sells scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to quickly get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and tools that help you improve your credit score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free credit score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Armed with this information, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

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

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