You Credit Score: How's Your FICO?

Because we live in a computer-driven world, it should come as no surprise that your creditworthiness boils down to one 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.

The three agencies use slightly different formulas to build 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 the formulas vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following in calculating your score:

  • Your Credit History - How long 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 hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are weighted differently depending on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary a a little by agency. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

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 FICO score?

What can you do to raise 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. (Of course you must remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Know your FICO

To raise your credit score, you've got to have the reports that the agencies use to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are 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 the three major credit reporting 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.

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

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us: 214-663-5355.