You Credit Score- How's Your FICO?

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Since we live in an computer-driven world, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to just one number. Credit reporting agencies use your payment history to create a FICO score.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO 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, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following to calculate your score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for a short time?
  • History of Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • 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. Each formula produces a single number which varies slightly by agency. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Higher is better. Most home buyers have a score above 620.

Your credit score affects 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.

Can I raise my FICO score?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the score is formulated from your lifelong credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. (Of course you must have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

Before you can improve your FICO score, you must get your score and make certain that the credit reports from each credit reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are information and online 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 credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.

Armed with this information, you'll 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 at (612) 386-5901.

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