FICO Credit Scores: What Do They Mean?

Since we live in an automated world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to just one number. All the years you've been 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.

Each of the three credit agencies has its own formula for building your 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 these methods vary, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following factors to build a credit score:

  • Your Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you hold? How much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. The result is one number. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? FICO scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.

Can I raise my credit score?

What can you do to raise your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you can and should remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Know your FICO

To improve your FICO score, you've got to obtain the reports that the agencies use 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 reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and online tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

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

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.

Want to know more about your FICO score? Call us: (434) 975-5626.

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