How FICO Credit Scores Are Calculated

Since we live in an computer-driven society, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle 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.

Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, the three major credit reporting agencies, each have their own proprietary formula for building 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 from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following to calculate your score:

  • Your Credit History - How long have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted differently depending on which formula the agency uses. 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 scores are better. Typical home buyers likely find their FICO scores falling between 620 and 800.

Your FICO score affects your interest rate

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

Raising your credit score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. You must, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect reporting from your credit report, which is the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.

Getting your credit score

To raise your FICO score, you've got to get the credit 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 as well as credit reports from all three agencies. Also available are information and tools that help you understand how to improve your FICO score.

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

Armed with this info, you'll 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 at (800) 919-3276.

Got a Question?

Do you have a question? We can help. Simply fill out the form below and we'll contact you with the answer, with no obligation to you. We guarantee your privacy.

Your Information
Your Question
By checking the box, you agree that Farm Credit of the Virginias may call/text you about your inquiry, which may involve use of automated means and prerecorded/artificial voices.. Message/data rates may apply.