Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

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Because we live in a computer-driven world, it should come as no surprise that your creditworthiness comes down to one number. Credit reporting agencies use your loan payment history in order to compile your FICO score.

All three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a credit score. The original FICO 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, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following in calculating your score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for just a short time?
  • History of Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are weighted differently depending on the formula being used. The result is one number. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620. We will take the mid-credit score (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) in determining your loan approval.

Credit scores make a difference in your interest rate

Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Improving your score

What can you do to raise your FICO score? Very little in the short term. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you must appeal incorrect items on your credit report).  Test your knowledge about credit score myths or facts?

Getting your credit score

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to know your score and ensure that the reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a website (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score as well as credit reports from all three reporting agencies. They also provide helpful information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once a year from all three 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.

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. Here are samples from Credco credit report  and Clear choice credit report.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us: 206.393.0684.

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