About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in an automated, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to one number. The FICO score is created by credit reporting agencies. They use the payment history from your various loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle loans, credit cards, etcetera.

Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, the three major credit agencies, each have a proprietary formula for building a 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 long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are weighted slightly differently depending 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 is better. Most home buyers likely find their FICO scores between 620 and 800.

FICO makes a huge difference in interest rates

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.

Raising your credit score

Is there any way to raise your FICO score? 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.)

How do I find out my FICO score?

In order to improve your FICO score, you must have the reports that the agencies use to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with reports from all three agencies. They also provide helpful information and online tools that can help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once a year from all three agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free credit score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Now that you have all the facts, 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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