You Credit Score- How's Your FICO?

Since our world is so computer-driven, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay virtually any loan comes down to one number. The FICO score is compiled by credit reporting agencies. These agencies use the payment history from all of your loans: credit cards, mortgages, car loans and others.

All three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a 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?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many 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 result is a single number: your FICO score. 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 score greatly affects your interest rate

FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

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. You must remove any incorrect data from your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Know your FICO score

Before you can improve your credit score, you have to know your score and make certain that the credit reports from each 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 from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide helpful information and tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from all three agencies by visiting 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 right mortgage for you.

Curious about your credit score? Call us: 978-422-2311.

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