How FICO Credit Scores Are Calculated

Because we live in a computer-driven world, it should come as no surprise that your creditworthiness comes down to one number. The FICO score is compiled by credit agencies. These agencies use the payment history of all of your loans: credit cards, mortgages, car loans and the like.

Each of the three credit reporting agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. The original FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. 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 determine your score:

  • Credit History - Have you had credit for many years, or for a short time?
  • Payment History - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?

Each of these is assigned a value and a weight. 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 home buyers have a score above 620.

Credit scores make a huge difference in interest rates

Did you know? FICO scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Improving your score

How can you raise your FICO score? Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. You should, of course, remove any incorrect data from your credit report; this is really the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.

Getting your credit score

In order 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 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 information and online tools that help you improve your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is quick and inexpensive.

Armed with this info, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about your credit score? Give us a call: 405-513-7700.

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