FICO - Your Credit Score
Since our society is so computer-driven, you're probably not surprised to hear that your creditworthiness boils down to a single number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying all types of loans in order to create this score.
Each of the three credit agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "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 your score:
- Credit History - How long have you had credit?
- History of Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
- Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of lending you money?
Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which varies slightly by agency. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers will likely find their credit scores falling between 620 and 800.
Credit scores make a huge difference in 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.
Improving your score
Is it possible 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 must remove incorrect data on your credit report.)
Getting your FICO score
Before you can improve your score, you must obtain your score and make certain that the reports from each 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 reports from all three agencies. Also available are information and online tools that can help you improve your credit score.
You can get a free credit report once per year from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is quick and inexpensive.
Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.