About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in an automated, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay virtually any loan boils down to one number. The FICO score is created by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history of all of your loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle/boat loans, credit cards, and others.

All three major credit reporting 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. 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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, all of the agencies use the following to build a score:

  • Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly by agency. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Typical home buyers will probably find their FICO scores between 620 and 800.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? FICO 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

How can you improve your credit score? Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is calculated from your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you can and should have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

To improve your credit score, you must obtain the credit reports that the agencies use to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented the original FICO score, sells FICO scores on myFICO.com. 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 help you improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report every year from all three agencies at 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 right mortgage for you.

Curious about your FICO score? Call us: (281) 778-0805.

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