Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

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. The FICO score is built by credit reporting agencies. They use the payment history of all of your loans: credit cards, mortgages, car loans and others.

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 from one agency to another, all of the agencies use the following to calculate your credit score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Credit Card Balances - 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. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher is better. Most folks who want to get a mortgage loan in the current environment 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.

Improving your score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Since the FICO score is based on your lifelong credit history, it's hard to significantly improve the score with quick fixes. You should remove any incorrect data on your credit report; this is really the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.

How do I find out my credit score?

To improve your FICO score, you've got to get the credit reports that are used 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. For a reasonable fee, you can get your FICO score from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide helpful information and tools that help you understand how to improve your credit score.

You can get a free credit report once per year from the three major agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is fast and inexpensive.

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about your FICO score? Give us a call at (541) 683-3300.

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