FICO Credit Scores: What Do They Mean?

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Since our society is so automated, it's probably not that surprising that your ability to repay virtually any loan comes down to one number. Credit reporting agencies use your history of paying loans in order to create this score.

The three agencies use slightly different formulas to build a 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; each agency uses the following factors to build your 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?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many credit card accounts do you hold, and how much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit for the purpose of giving you a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 850. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers probably find their FICO scores falling between 620 and 850.

Your credit score affects your interest rate

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 improve my FICO score?

Is it possible to raise your FICO score? Because the score is based on your lifelong credit history, it's hard to change it quickly. (Of course you can and should remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Know your FICO

To raise your FICO score, you must get the reports that the agencies use to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the original FICO credit score, sells FICO scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to quickly get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and tools that can help you understand how to improve your credit score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from all three agencies at 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.

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.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us: 813-865-6040.

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