How FICO Credit Scores Are Calculated
Since our world is so automated, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to a single number.
The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.
The three 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 the formulas vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following in calculating a 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?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
- Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?
These factors are weighted differently depending on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers will likely find their credit scores falling above 620.
Not just for qualifying
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 raise your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the score is based on your lifelong credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)
Know your FICO score
Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to obtain your score and make sure that the credit reports from each 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 get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are information and online tools that help you improve your credit score.
You can get a federally-mandated free credit report every year from the three major credit reporting agencies when you visit 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 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 at 4104614043.