About the FICO Credit Score

Because our world is so automated, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay virtually any loan comes down to one number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying all types of loans in order to compile a FICO score.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO model 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 the formulas vary from one agency to another, each agency uses the following to calculate a credit score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Have you paid more than 30 days late?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most folks who want to get a mortgage loan have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

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.

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. (Of course you must have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Getting your credit score

In order to improve your FICO score, you must have the reports that the agencies use to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the corporation that offered the original FICO score, offers credit scores on myFICO.com. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and tools that help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is quick and very inexpensive.

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? Call us: (860) 658-7100.

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