Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

Because our society is so computer-driven, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to one number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

All three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a 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 the formulas vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following to build a credit score:

  • Your 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? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. The result is a single number: your credit score. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers likely find their FICO scores between 620 and 800.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Improving your score

Is there any way to raise your FICO score? Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the score is calculated from your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You must, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data from your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.

How do I find out my FICO score?

To raise your FICO score, you've got to have the credit reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented the original FICO score, offers credit scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as credit reports from all three reporting agencies. They also provide information and tools that can help you improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from all three credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.

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

Curious about credit scores? Give us a call at 504-866-5626.

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