About the FICO Credit Score
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Since we live in an automated world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to just one number.
All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.
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.
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 from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following in building your credit score:
- Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
- Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have? How much do you owe?
- 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. The result is one number. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Higher is always better. Typical home buyers will likely find their credit scores falling above 620.
FICO makes a big 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.
Improving your score
Is it possible to improve your credit score? Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is built on your lifelong credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)
Getting your FICO score
In order to raise your score, you must have the credit reports that the agencies use to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. 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 agencies. Also available are helpful information and tools that help you 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. While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.
Armed with this info, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.
Curious about credit scores? Give us a call: 866-300-1550.