When lenders talk about “your score,” they usually mean the FICo® score developed by Fair Isaac Corporation. It is today’s most commonly used scoring system. FICO scores range from 300-850, and most people score in the 600s and 700s (higher FICO scores are better). Lenders buy your FICO score from three national credit reporting agencies (also called credit bureaus):Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
In the eyes of most lenders, FICO credit scores above 700 are very good and a sign of good financial health. FICO scores below 600 indicate high risk to lenders and could lead lenders to charge you much higher rates or turn down your credit application.
Not just one score
There are many types of credit scores. They are developed by independent companies, credit reporting agencies, and even some lenders. As a rule, the higher the score, the better.
• Each credit reporting agency calculates your score and each score may be different because the credit history each agency has about you may be different. Lenders may make a credit card or auto loan decision based on a single agency’s score, although others such as mortgage lenders often will look at all three scores.
•Your creditscore changes when your information changes at that credit reporting agency. This is good news! It means you can improve a poor score over time by improving how you handle credit.
•Many insurance companies use something similar when setting your insurance rates, called a “credit-based insurance score.” You may be able to improve your insurance score by improving how you handle credit, which in turn may lower your premium payments on auto or homeowners insurance.
•Some credit scores offered to consumers are just estimates and are different from the credit risk scores lenders actually use, although they may appear similar. Consumer reporting agencies and other companies sometimes use an estimated score to illustrate a consumer’s general level of credit risk. How might you tell whether a score is estimated? Ask the company if the score is used by most lenders. If it isn’t, it is likely to be an estimated score.
Learn your scores
It’s now easy to get your credit scores to check your financial health. Different sources provide credit scores to consumers via the internet, telephone or U.S. Mail. For most scores, you will need to pay a small amount. You also will be asked to prove your identity to make sure your financial information isn’t given to the wrong person.
Recomended places where you can get your credit scores
ANNUAL CREDIT REPORT SERVICE
Phone: 1 877 322 8228
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P. O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Phone: 1 800 342 6726
Phone: 1 800 685 1111
Phone: 1 866 200 6020
Phone: 1 800 888 4213