How's your FICO Score?

Since we live in an automated, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay virtually any loan boils down to one number. The FICO score is built by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history from all of your loans: credit cards, mortgages, car loans and the like.

Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have a proprietary formula for building your credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . 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 determine a credit score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you hold? How much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

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

Credit scores make a huge difference in your interest rate

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 probably a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Can I improve my credit score?

Is it possible to improve your credit score? Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you must appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

Before you can improve your score, you must get your score and make certain that the reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented the original FICO credit score, offers scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three credit reporting agencies. Also available are helpful information and tools that can help you understand how to improve your credit score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from the three major 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 information, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us: 504-866-5626.

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