About the FICO Credit Score
Since we live in an automated world, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, 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. . While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, all of the agencies use the following to calculate a score:
- Your Credit History - How long have you had credit?
- History of Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
- Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you have? How much do you owe on your accounts?
- Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?
These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most borrowers who want to get a mortgage score 620 or above.
FICO makes a big difference in your interest rate
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 raise my credit score?
What can you do to improve your FICO score? Very little in the short term. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you must have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)
Getting your credit score
In order to raise your score, you've got to obtain the credit 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 to quickly get your FICO score from all three agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and online tools that help you understand how to improve your credit score.
You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from all three credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is quick and inexpensive.
Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.