FICO Credit Scores: What Do They Mean?

Since we live in an automated, it should come as no surprise that your creditworthiness boils down to a single number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying loans in order to create this score.

The three credit reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While the formulas vary, each agency uses the following to calculate your score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are weighted slightly differently depending on which formula the agency uses. 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 is better. Typical home buyers likely find their FICO scores falling between 620 and 800.

Credit scores make a big difference in 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 credit score?

How can you improve your credit score? So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the FICO score is calculated from your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you can and should appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Know your FICO

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to get your score and make sure that the 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 score from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from all three agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is fast and very inexpensive.

Armed with this info, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Curious about your credit score? Give us a call at 305-967-7200.




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