Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Credit Scores? Just Smile and Nod…

We often hear about the importance of a strong, well-kept Credit Score; but do you really understand what a Credit Score is?  Although the details are far from simple, we did our best to break it down and cover some main points to help you become more informed, so next time you’re asked about a Credit Score, you don’t have to just smile and nod

What Exactly is It?
A Credit Score is a 3 digit number generated by mathematical algorithms taken from various pieces of information within your Credit Report.  Basically, this calculated number aims to predict your risk as an individual and analyze the chances of you becoming a “delinquent” on different credit obligations. 

Who Uses It?
Your Credit Score is often used by financial institutions and credit card companies to evaluate your eligibility for lending money.  Your score can help determine if you qualify for a loan, what your limits are, and the interest rate.  However, Credit Scores are not only for financial institutions.  A variety of organizations (cell phone companies, insurance companies, landlords, etc.) can use your Credit Score information for the same techniques.  Your Credit Score can be the difference between a low or high interest rate, qualification for an apartment rental, and much more.

Are they All the Same?
While there are all kinds of existing Credit Score models, the most common is the FICO.  According to myFICO.com, “90 percent of all financial institutions in the U.S. use FICO scores” when making decisions.  Your FICO score can be anywhere in the 300 – 850 range; a higher FICO score number indicates lower risk.  There are three different Credit Bureaus that gather your score: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – this means each consumer has three FICO scores.  Your FICO score is made up from your Credit Report’s data that is sorted into 5 main categories (see below).  Within this model, some factors are weighed more heavily – like debt and payment history.

What Makes up the Score?
On the right, you’ll see a model of what goes into your Credit Score.  Your Payment History (35%) includes account payment information, including delinquencies and public records.  Your Amounts Owed (30%) is how much you owe on each of your accounts.  The Length of Credit History (15%) is the amount of time between activity on accounts and how long they've been open.  Types of Credit Used (10%) is the variety of accounts you have (installment and revolving).  Lastly, New Credit (10%) includes credit inquiries you've made, recently opened accounts, and your pursuing of new credit.  It is important to note that personal and demographic information (age, marital status, race, income, address, employment, etc.) do not affect your score.

With a better understanding of your Credit Score you can practice better control of your score.  Stay tuned for future blogs about how to build good scores, what can hurt your score, and becoming financially fit. If you have any questions, call or stop by today! We are People Helping People.

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