How FICO Credit Scores Are Calculated

Since we live in a computer-driven world, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay virtually any loan comes down to one number. This score is created by credit reporting agencies. They use the payment history of your various loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle loans, credit cards, and others.

All three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While the formulas vary, all of the agencies use the following to calculate a score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? 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 assigned weights based on the formula being used. The result is one number. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is better. Most folks who want to get a mortgage score 620 or above.

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. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Can I improve my FICO score?

What can you do about your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Since the FICO score is based on a lifetime of credit history, it's very hard to change it quickly. You must appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect reporting from your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Know your FICO

To raise your credit score, you've got to have the credit reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the first FICO score, sells credit scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as credit reports from all three agencies. They also provide information and tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report every 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 will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call: 708.966.9005.

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