How's your FICO Score?

Because we live in a computer-driven society, it's probably not that surprising that your creditworthiness comes down to one number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, sliced, 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 credit score. The original FICO model was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While the formulas vary, each agency uses the following to calculate your credit score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The result is a single number: your credit score. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is always better. Most folks who want to get a mortgage loan in the current environment have a score above 620.

Your score greatly affects how much you pay in interest every month

Did you know? Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Can I raise my FICO 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.)

Know your FICO

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

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

Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Curious about credit scores? Give us a call: 706-860-5514.

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