You Credit Score: How's Your FICO?

Because we live in a computer-driven society, it should come as no surprise that your creditworthiness comes down to a single number. The FICO score is compiled by credit agencies. They use the payment history of your various loans: credit cards, mortgages, car loans and the like.

Each of the three credit agencies has its own formula for building your 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, each agency uses the following to determine your score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
  • 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 can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers have a score above 620.

Credit scores make a difference in interest rates

Did you know? 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 FICO score?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. You should, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data from your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Getting your credit score

Before you can improve your FICO score, you must get your score and ensure that the credit reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the first FICO credit score, sells credit scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with credit reports from all three agencies. 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 agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is quick and very inexpensive.

Now that you have all the facts, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

Curious about your FICO score? Give us a call at 407-834-3377.

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