FICO - Your 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. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying loans in order to build a FICO score.

All three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following in calculating your score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for a short time?
  • History of Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are weighted a little bit differently depending on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary a a little by agency. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers have a score above 620.

FICO makes a big difference in your interest rate

Did you know? 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 FICO score

What can you do to improve your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is built on your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

How do I find out my FICO score?

Before you can improve your credit score, you must know your score and ensure that the credit reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a web site ( that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with reports from all three reporting agencies. Also available are information and online tools that help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from the three major agencies at While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.

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.

Curious about your credit score? Call us: 706-860-5514.

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