About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in an automated, it should come as no surprise 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, vehicle payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, sliced, 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 was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. 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 your score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these is assigned a value and a weight. The result is a single number: your credit score. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Typical home buyers will probably find their FICO scores between 620 and 800.

Credit scores make a big difference in your interest rate

FICO 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

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. 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 appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

To raise your score, you must get the credit reports that the agencies use to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the first FICO score, offers FICO scores on myFICO.com. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are 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 free credit report once a 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 quick and inexpensive.

Armed with this information, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call at 630-717-3600.


English Spanish