How's your FICO Score?

Since our world is so computer-driven, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay virtually any loan boils down to a single number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

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

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly from one agency to another. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most borrowers getting a mortgage loan score 620 or above.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? Credit 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.

Improving your score

What can you do about 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 appeal incorrect items on your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

In order to raise your score, you must obtain the credit reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the corporation that offered the first FICO score, sells credit 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 online tools that help you improve your credit score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from all three credit reporting 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.

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

Curious about your credit score? Give us a call at (513) 713-1515.

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