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 loan comes down to a single number. The FICO score is created by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history of all of your loans: mortgages, car loans, credit cards, and others.

Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, the three major credit agencies, each has a proprietary formula for building a credit score. Fair Isaac and Co originally developed this score. While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While these methods vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following to calculate a score:

  • Your Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The result is one number. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most home buyers have a score above 620.

Credit scores make a big difference in your interest rate

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.

Raising your FICO score

What can you do to raise your FICO score? Very little in the short term. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. (Of course you must remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

How do I find out my credit score?

Before you can improve your score, you must know your score and be sure that the credit reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the company that offered the original FICO credit score, sells credit scores on myFICO.com. It's inexpensive to get your FICO score from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are information and online tools that can help you improve your credit 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 credit score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

Armed with this info, 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 at 812-945-4400.

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3001 Charlestown Xing Way, Suite 3
New Albany, IN 47150