Financial institutions use your credit score when reviewing your request for a new credit card, line of credit, mortgage, and other financial products. Your credit report helps to convey your past use of credit and can be a factor in the approval of the loan application.
What Lenders See
Lenders access your credit history, which contains a detailed listing of your previous and current credit accounts. If another lender has pulled your credit report to pre-qualify credit, this will show up as well. If there have been late payments or accounts reported to collection agencies, this information will be visible on the report. Public records which may include bankruptcies and foreclosures, are also listed.
A lender will review the credit information against allowable underwriting policies to determine if they can extend an offer of credit. A type of credit score used widely by lending institutions is the FICO® Score, which was created by Fair Isaac Corporation. FICO® Scores generally have a range between 300 to 850.
How a Credit Score Is Computed
According to myFICO.com, performance under five general categories makes up a credit score with each having an associated weight. Here are the percentage weights for the FICO® score:
- Payment history – 35%
- Credit utilization – 30%
- Length of credit history – 15%
- New credit – 10%
- Credit mix – 10%
From these criteria, you can see that your payment history and credit utilization hold the most influence on your credit score. These two areas are generally the key to working on improving your credit score.
Access Your Credit Report
Your credit report is available from the three national credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You can request them for free once a year, per credit bureau.
There are many services that will provide you an annual copy of your credit report for free like free, such as annualcreditreport.com. Keep in mind that, for some of these providers, a credit score isn’t included in the report. Be proactive in reviewing your credit history for mistakes and contact the credit bureau timely for any errors found.
Accessing Your Credit Score
There are several different ways to access your credit score. Many major credit card companies offer the option to view your credit score regularly.
There are also credit score services that offer to provide your credit score for free or if you sign up for their credit monitoring service. Some of these paid services offer a free trial period. Be sure to verify the trial period if you don’t intend to continue with the service.
You can also buy your score from a credit reporting company. FICO® Credit scores can be purchased at www.myfico.com. Other services may be included or available in addition to your credit score, including identity theft monitoring and credit protection
Another option is to contact a not-for-profit credit counselor. These counselors may be able to assist you in retrieving a copy of your credit report and could help review them with you.
Remember that FICO® scores are not the only credit score used by all institutions, and overall credit scoring and range requirements may vary. Scores also vary with each credit reporting agency, so be sure to do your research to understand how each measure your creditworthiness.
If you would like a mortgage expert to explain how a FICO score can impact applying for a home loan, give us a call at 855-465-0753.
NASB does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisers before engaging in any transaction.