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 boils down to a single number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying loans to compile a FICO score.

Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building a credit score. The original FICO was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While these methods vary from one agency to another, all of the agencies use the following to build a score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many credit card accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. 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 better. Most home buyers have a score above 620.

Credit scores make 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.

Can I raise my credit score?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Since the credit score is based on your lifelong credit history, it's very hard to significantly improve the number with quick fixes. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

How do I find out my FICO score?

In order to improve your score, you must have the credit reports that the agencies use to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac, the corporation that offered the first FICO score, offers credit scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with credit reports from all three reporting agencies. They also provide information and tools that help you understand how to improve your credit score.

You can get a free credit report every year from the three major agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is fast and inexpensive.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

Curious about your credit score? Give us a call: 978-422-2311.

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