You Credit Score- How's Your FICO?

Because our world is so automated, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to a single number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

Each of the three credit reporting agencies has its own formula for building your 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 the formulas vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following in building your credit score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many credit card accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
  • 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. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly from one agency to another. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is always better. Most people who want to get a mortgage in the current environment score 620 or above.

Your score affects your monthly payment

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 improve my credit score?

Is there any way to improve your FICO score? So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the score is calculated from your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you can and should appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Getting your credit score

In order to raise your FICO score, you've got to get the reports that the agencies use to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. 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 as well as credit reports from all three agencies. Also available are helpful information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from the three major agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is fast and very inexpensive.

Armed with this info, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us at 702-524-1376.

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