The FICO® score, developed by Fair, Isaac (the pioneer in credit scoring), is a number between 300 and 850 that lenders use to determine your credit rating. A FICO® score is a snapshot of your credit rating at a particular point in time. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be approved for loans and receive favorable rates.
More than 70% of the 100 largest financial institutions use FICO® scores to make billions of credit decisions each year, including more than 75 percent of mortgage loan originations.
What does the score mean? Generally, the scores equate to the following (keep in mind each lender will have their own criteria that may differ somewhat from the values shown):
- 500-619 is considered a sub-prime score
- 620-699 is considered a medium score
- 700 and above is considered a good to excellent score
How are they determined? The five areas considered in the calculation of your credit score listed from most important to least important are:
- Payment history
- Amount owed
- Length of credit history
- New credit
- Types of credit in use
How can your score be improved? Generally, people with high scores consistently:
- Pay bills on time
- Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit products
- Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed