FICO - Your Credit Score

Since our world is so automated, it should come as no surprise that your creditworthiness comes down to one number. This score is compiled by credit reporting agencies. They use the payment history of your various loans: mortgages, car loans, credit cards, and the like.

TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, the three major credit agencies, each have a proprietary formula for building a 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 these methods vary, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following factors to calculate a score:

  • Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for just a short time?
  • History of Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many credit card accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher scores are better. Typical home buyers probably find their credit scores falling between 620 and 800.

Credit scores make a big difference in 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 credit 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. (Of course you can and should remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

How do I find out my FICO score?

Before you can improve your credit score, you have to know your score and be sure that the reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the first FICO credit score, sells credit scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as reports from all three 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 free credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting 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 most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call at (510) 683-9850.

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