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Resources & Tools

Credit Score – The Magic Number Explained

What is a Credit Score?

Credit score is a three-digit number generated by a mathematical algorithm using information in your credit report. Lenders use credit scores to determine who qualifies for a loan, the interest on a loan and the credit limit.
“90 percent of all financial institutions in the U.S. use FICO scores in their decision-making process.” – myFICO.com

Where can I get my credit score?

There are three main credit bureaus that collect and maintain the information that determines individuals Credit Scores: Equifax, Experian, Trans Union

Why do credit scores vary between the three bureaus?

Each of the agencies:

  • Report or receive information on different dates
  • Use different scoring models or algorithms
  • Some lenders or billing agencies don’t report to all three agencies

The 5 factors that make up a FICO credit score:

Payment history: (35 percent) — Account payment information, including any delinquencies and public records.
Amounts owed: (30 percent) — How much is owed on all accounts. The amount of available credit being used on revolving accounts is heavily weighted.
Length of credit history: (15 percent) — How long ago accounts were opened and time since account activity.
Types of credit used: (10 percent) — The mix of existing accounts, such as revolving and installment.
New credit: (10 percent) — Your pursuit of new credit, including credit inquiries and number of recently opened accounts.

Personal or demographic information such as age, race, address, marital status, income and employment don’t affect the score.

What’s a Good Credit Score?

Most credit scores operate within the range of 300 to 850. Higher the score, Lower the Risk!
Excellent Credit: 750+
Good Credit: 700-749
Fair Credit: 650-699
Poor Credit: 600-649
Bad Credit: below 600
Remember, lenders all have their own definitions of what is a good credit score.

Why should you care about Credit Scores?

  1. Determines the ability to get a mortgage: If you have a bad credit history, your home loan maybe denied.
  2. It is a sign of financial responsibility: Higher scores can mean lower premiums on insurance etc.
  3. Means to obtain lower Interest Rates: Lower Credit scores trigger higher interest rates on loans.
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