You Credit Score: How's Your FICO?

Since we live in an computer-driven society, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to a single number. The FICO score is created by credit reporting agencies. They use the payment history from your various loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle loans, credit cards, and others.

Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, the three major credit agencies, each have a proprietary 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 these methods vary, each agency uses the following to determine your score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many credit card accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

Each of these is assigned a value and a weight. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher scores are better. Most folks getting a mortgage have a score above 620.

Your score affects your interest rate

Did you know? FICO scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are probably a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Can I raise my credit score?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve 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 appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

How do I find out my FICO score?

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to know your score and make sure that the reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can get your FICO score from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and online tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report every year from all three credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free credit score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Armed with this information, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

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

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