FICO Credit Scores: What Do They Mean?

Since we live in an automated, you're probably not surprised to hear that your creditworthiness comes down to one number. The FICO score is created by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history of your various loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle/boat loans, credit cards, etcetera.

Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, the three major credit agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . 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 the formulas vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following to build your credit score:

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

These factors are weighted a little bit differently depending on the formula being used. 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. Typical home buyers will probably find their scores between 620 and 800.

FICO makes a difference in interest rates

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

What can you do to raise your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you can and should remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

How do I find out my credit score?

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to get your score and ensure that the credit reports from each credit 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 as well as credit reports from all three agencies. Also available are helpful information and online tools that can help you improve your credit score.

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

Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about your credit score? Give us a call at 7072522700.

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