About the FICO Credit Score

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Since we live in an automated society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car 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.

Each of the three credit reporting agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. The original FICO 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; each agency uses the following in building your score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for a short time?
  • Late Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these is assigned a value and a weight. The result is a single number: your FICO score. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Typical home buyers will likely find their credit scores falling between 620 and 800.

Your score greatly affects your monthly payment

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 there any way to raise your credit score? 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 have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Getting your credit score

In order to improve your score, you must have the reports that are used 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 reporting agencies. Also available are information and tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report every year from all three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is fast and inexpensive.

Armed with this info, you will 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 at (760) 547-2080.