How's your FICO Score?

Because we live in an automated, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay virtually any loan comes down to one number. The FICO score is created by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history from all of your loans: credit cards, mortgages, car loans and others.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO score 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, all of the agencies use the following to determine your credit score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? 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. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.

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.

Can I raise my 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. You must remove any incorrect data on your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Know your FICO score

In order to raise your FICO score, you must obtain the reports that the agencies use to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. 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. Also available are helpful information and tools that can help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from the three major agencies by visiting 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 will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

Curious about your FICO score? Give us a call: (303) 650-9400.

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