FICO Credit Scores: What Do They Mean?

Since we live in an computer-driven society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage boils down to just one number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, the three major credit agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building a credit 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, all of the agencies use the following to build a score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you hold? How much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - 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 range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.

Your score affects how much you pay in interest every month

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.

Improving your score

Is there any way to improve your FICO score? Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. You must appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data from your credit report; this is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Know your FICO score

Before you can improve your FICO score, you have to know your score and be sure that the reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the first FICO credit score, sells FICO scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to quickly get your FICO score from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are information and tools that can help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from all three credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free credit 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 get the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about your FICO score? Give us a call at (334) 285-8850.

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