About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in an computer-driven world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to just one number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

All three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a 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, each agency uses the following to build your credit score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you carry? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted a little bit differently depending on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

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 FICO score

What can you do about your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Because the FICO score is entirely based on a lifetime of credit history, it's very hard to make a significant change in the number with quick fixes. You should, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data from your credit report; this is really the only "quick fix" for credit problems.

How do I find out my credit score?

To improve your credit score, you've got to have the credit reports that the agencies use to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac, the corporation that offered the original FICO credit score, sells FICO scores on its website: myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to quickly get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are information and tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on 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 score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Now that you have all the facts, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about your FICO score? Give us a call: (207) 571-8034.