FICO - Your Credit Score
Since our world is so computer-driven, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay virtually any loan boils down to one number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.
TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three major credit agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building your 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, all of the agencies use the following to calculate a credit score:
- Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
- Payment History - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
- Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?
Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly from one agency to another. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.
Your credit score greatly affects your interest rate
Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.
Can I raise my credit score?
How can you improve your credit score? Because the score is based on your lifelong credit history, it's very hard to change it quickly. (Of course you must appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)
How do I find out my credit score?
Before you can improve your credit score, you must know your score and be sure 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 along with credit reports from all three agencies. They also provide helpful information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.
You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.
Now that you have all the facts, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.