FICO Credit Scores: What Do They Mean?

Because we live in a computer-driven society, it's probably not that surprising that your creditworthiness comes down to one number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO model was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. 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 these methods vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following to build a score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you hold? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these factors 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. Typical home buyers probably find their scores above 620.

FICO makes a huge difference in your interest rate

Did you know? Credit 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.

Raising your credit 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 should appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data on your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Know your FICO score

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to obtain your score and make certain that the reports from each credit reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the corporation that offered the first FICO score, sells credit scores on myFICO.com. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and tools that help you improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is quick and very inexpensive.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call at 3172889434.

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