How FICO Credit Scores Are Calculated

Since we live in an automated world, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to just one number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying all types of loans in order to create this score.

All three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, each agency uses the following to build a credit score:

  • Your Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for just a short time?
  • Late Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers have a score above 620.

Not just for qualifying

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.

Can I raise my credit score?

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

Getting your credit score

To improve your FICO score, you've got to have the reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can get your FICO score from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful 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 agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free 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 most favorable mortgage.

Curious about credit scores? Call us at (612) 240-9922.

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