About the FICO Credit Score

Because our world is so automated, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to one number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO model was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. 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, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following in calculating your score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you hold? How much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The result is one number. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most people who want to get a mortgage these days have a score above 620.

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.

Improving your 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 change in the number with quick fixes. You must, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data on your credit report; this is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Know your FICO

To improve your credit score, you must get the reports that are used to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the original FICO score, sells credit scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to quickly get your FICO score from all three agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide helpful information and online tools that can help you improve your credit score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from all three agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is fast and inexpensive.

Now that you have all the facts, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us at (707) 252-2700.

Got a Question?

Do you have a question? We can help. Simply fill out the form below and we'll contact you with the answer, with no obligation to you. We guarantee your privacy.

Your Information
Your Question