About credit scores
FICO® scores are the credit scores most lenders use to determine your credit risk. You have three FICO scores, one for each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Each score is based on information the credit bureau keeps on file about you. As this information changes, your credit scores tend to change as well. Your 3 FICO scores affect both how much and what loan terms (interest rate, etc.) lenders will offer you at any given time. Taking steps to improve your FICO scores can help you qualify for better rates from lenders.
For your three FICO scores to be calculated, each of your three credit reports must contain at least one account which has been open for at least six months. In addition, each report must contain at least one account that has been updated in the past six months. This ensures that there is enough informati0on – and enough recent information – in your report on which to base a FICO score on each report.
About FICO scores
Credit bureau scores are often called "FICO scores" because most credit bureau scores used in the U.S. are produced from software developed by Fair Isaac and Company. FICO scores are provided to lenders by the major credit reporting agencies.
FICO scores provide the best guide to future risk based solely on credit report data. The higher the credit score, the lower the risk. But no score says whether a specific individual will be a "good" or "bad" customer. And while many lenders use FICO scores to help them make lending decisions, each lender has its own strategy, including the level of risk it finds acceptable for a given credit product. There is no single "cutoff score" used by all lenders and there are many additional factors that lenders use to determine your actual interest rates.
Five Parts to Your FICO Credit Scores:
As a rule, credit scores analyze the credit-related information on your credit report. How they do this varies. Since FICO scores are frequently used, here is how these scores assess what is on your credit report.
• Your payment history – about 35% of a FICO score
Have you paid your credit accounts on time? Late payments, bankruptcies, and other negative items can hurt your credit score. But a solid record of on-time payments helps your score.
• How much you owe – about 30% of a FICO score
FICO scores look at the amounts you owe on all your accounts, the number of accounts with balances, and how much of your available credit you are using. The more you owe compared to your credit limit, the lower your score will be.
• Length of your credit history – about 15% of a FICO score
A longer credit history will increase your score. However, you can get a high score with a short credit history if the rest of your credit report shows responsible credit management.
• New credit – about 10% of a FICO score
If you have recently applied for or opened new credit accounts, your credit score will weigh this fact against the rest of your credit history. FICO scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which inquiries occur. If you need a loan, do your rate shopping within a focused period of time, such as 30 days, to avoid lowering your FICO score.
• Other factors – about 10% of a FICO score
Several minor factors also can influence your score. For example, having a mix of credit types on your credit report – credit cards, installment loans such as a mortgage or auto loan, and personal lines of credit – is normal for people with longer credit histories and can add slightly to their scores.