How FICO Credit Scores Are Calculated

Since we live in an automated society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

The three agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. Fair Isaac and Cooriginally developed this score. . Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While the formulas vary, the differences aren't huge; each agency uses the following factors to build a credit score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted a little bit differently depending 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 800. Higher is always better. Most people who want to get a mortgage loan in the current environment score 620 or above.

FICO makes a huge difference in interest rates

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.

Improving your score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is based on your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You must remove any incorrect data on your credit report; this is really the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Getting your credit score

In order to improve your credit 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, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with credit reports from all three agencies. They also provide helpful information and online tools that can help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from the three major credit reporting 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 obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us at (405) 615-8543.

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