Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

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Since we live in an automated, you're probably not surprised to hear that your ability to repay virtually any loan boils down to one number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

The three credit reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO model was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While these methods vary, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following in building a score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted slightly differently depending on which formula the agency uses. The result is a single number: your FICO score. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers likely find their scores between 620 and 800.

Your FICO score affects your monthly payment

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?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately 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 must remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

In order to raise your score, you've got to get the credit reports that are used to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive to get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are information and tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report every year from all three credit reporting 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 get the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us: (303) 369-5033.

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