How FICO Credit Scores Are Calculated

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Since our society is so automated, you're probably not surprised to hear that your creditworthiness comes down to one number. The FICO score is built by credit reporting agencies. These agencies use the payment history of your various loans: credit cards, mortgages, car loans and others.

The three credit reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build 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 these methods vary, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following to build a score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for many 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 have, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted differently depending on which formula the agency uses. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers will probably find their scores falling between 620 and 850.

Your score affects your interest rate

Did you know? Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.

Raising your 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. You should, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data from your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.

Know your FICO

In order 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 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 credit reports from all three reporting agencies. They also provide information and online tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from the three major 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 obtain the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call: (941) 954-4252.



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