A credit score is a 3 digit number that tells a creditor how creditworthy you are and how likely it is that you'll repay the credit once it is extended to you. These scores affect the interest rates you receive on mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, etc. In addition, when you go for an insurance policy or apply for a job, the insurer or employer may look at your credit scores. Even when you're looking to rent, your landlord would prefer it if you have a good credit/FICO score.
What is FICO score?
A FICO score is calculated on the basis of the FICO Scoring Model developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation. In most cases, when people talk about their credit scores, their FICO credit score is what they mean. Consumers can access different versions of the FICO score at the 2 bureaus - Equifax and TransUnion. These scores are known as the Beacon score and Empirica score.
Can you get a free credit score?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), anyone is entitled to a free copy of their credit report once a year from each of the bureaus; but free credit scores are not available. You'll have to place an order with the bureaus and pay a fee (set by the Federal Trade Commission) if you'd like to get your credit score. You may apply for your credit scores online at www.annualcreditreport.com or contact them at their toll free number 877-322-8228.
What is the Credit Scoring system?
It's a system where the credit bureaus figure out your scores based on the information that is available from your credit report. The bureaus use a statistical program to compare the loan repayment history of consumers with similar profiles. Then they award points for each item that helps find the consumers who can easily pay down a debt. The total number of points adds up to your credit score.
Why do credit scores or FICO scores vary?
The major credit bureaus - Equifax, and Trans Union follow the FICO scoring model (developed by Fair Issac Corporation) to calculate a FICO score. But scores differ because they use minor variations in the FICO Scoring Model
as well as assign different points to each item on your credit report.
Do credit score ratings differ?
Credit ratings may vary from one lender/creditor to another depending upon the items (such as late payments on revolving accounts, mortgages, credit card balances,) they consider after reviewing your credit report. For instance, an auto loan provider may leave out an item that a mortgage lender would consider while providing credit score ratings.
Is Mortgage Credit score similar to the regular score?
Mortgage lenders consider the median score - the one that comes in between the maximum and minimum scores you receive from the bureaus. But often lenders may not use the median score in order to evaluate your creditworthiness because the credit report you pull from the bureau is based on the Consumer Model, where your lender may prefer to calculate the score using a different scoring system - the Mortgage Model.
The information used for both Models may be the same but the importance given to each tradeline account may vary. The Mortgage Model gives more emphasis to the tradelines that can affect your mortgage loan. Thus, your chances of getting a mortgage at a favorable interest rate may depend more upon your mortgage credit scores instead of your regular score.
Are there alternatives to FICO scores?
As lenders pull your credit report from different bureaus, every lender will probably show different scores. Therefore, you won't get the same offers from different lenders. To avoid these discrepancies, the Vantage score has been introduced. A Vantage score ranges from 501 to 990 and is calculated the same way by each bureau thus giving you the same credit score, provided similar information is reported to each bureau
With the increase in the number of consumers who find themselves delinquent on their bills, lending standards have gotten tighter. Therefore, qualifying for a loan has become harder, especially if you don't have a good credit report or score. Especially when it comes to getting a mortgage, even those that are not supposed to be score driven require you to have a minimum 580 credit score. So, it's important to protect your credit standing and maintain a good score.