You Credit Score: How's Your FICO?

Since we live in an automated society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to a single number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying loans in order to build this score.

All three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at 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 the formulas vary, all of the agencies use the following to calculate your credit score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are weighted a little bit differently depending on the formula being used. The result is one number. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers probably find their credit scores falling between 620 and 800.

Your score greatly affects 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.

Raising your FICO 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. (Of course you must remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Know your FICO score

Before you can improve your score, you have to obtain your score and make certain that the reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented the original FICO score, offers scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with reports from all three credit reporting agencies. Also available are information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once a year from the three major agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is fast and inexpensive.

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

Curious about your credit score? Give us a call: 504-866-5626.

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