Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?
Since we live in an automated society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to just one number.
Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying loans to compile a FICO score.
Each of the three credit reporting agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. The original FICO model 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following to build your score:
- Your Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for just a short time?
- Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
- 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 giving you a loan?
These factors are weighted slightly differently depending on which formula the agency uses. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.
Not just for qualifying
Did you know? 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
What can you do to improve 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 appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)
Know your FICO
Before you can improve your FICO score, you must get your score and be sure that the reports from each credit reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented the original FICO credit score, sells FICO scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three credit reporting agencies. Also available are helpful information and tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.
You can get a free credit report every year from the three major agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is fast and very inexpensive.
Armed with this information, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.
Want to know more about your credit score? Call us: 866-840-8745 x2.