Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?
Because we live in a computer-driven world, it's probably not that surprising that your creditworthiness comes down to one number.
The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.
All three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. .
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; each agency uses the following factors in building a score:
- Your Credit History - How long have you had credit?
- Payment History - Do you pay your bills on time?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
- Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of lending you money?
These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The result is one number. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers these days 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.
Can I improve my FICO score?
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Because the score is entirely based on a lifetime of credit history, it's very hard to change it quickly. You must appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data from your credit report; this is really the only way to quickly improve your credit score.
Know your FICO score
Before you can improve your score, you have to get your score and ensure 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. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with credit reports from all three reporting agencies. They also provide 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 once per year from the three major credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.
Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.
Curious about your credit score? Give us a call at 6507631924.