In this day and age it is vitally important to maintain a decent credit score, especially if you plan to make major purchases like a home or a car. If your credit score is 700 or above, your chances for being denied a loan are very slim; and while Triple A credit is a luxury people dream of, few actually achieve that goal due to poor financial choices. However, you can make the most of your score by understanding the credit rating system, and by maintaining awareness of your standing. Doing this before you begin to shop for a home or auto loan can save hundreds and thousands of dollars just on the interest rate. It could also mean the difference between being approved or denied.
What's In A Credit Report?
Your credit report houses information that ranges from fairly personal information to your income and borrowing habits. It lists things that creditors will want to know before they decide to lend you money; things like
o How you pay your bills
o Your present and past employment history
o If you have been arrested or sued
o If you have filed for bankruptcy
o Your current residence, and past addresses depending on the time you have been at your current address
Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell information within your reports to employers, creditors, and insurers who utilize all information to evaluate your applications for credit, renting or buying a home, and obtaining insurance.
Obtaining Your Credit Reports Online
It is a requirement of The Fair Credit Reporting Act that the three main consumer reporting companies, Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian, provide consumers with free copies of their credit report once every 12 months (upon request). These companies are also charged with promoting privacy and accuracy of consumer reporting.
You can obtain a free copy of your credit report by either requesting it in writing directly from each of the three major credit bureaus, or by using the online request system they have created. AnnualCreditReport.com is a site that is sponsored by TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian to make it fast and easy for consumers to get reports online as they fulfill their legal requirements. You may order all three credit reports from each consumer reporting agency or you may choose to order only one report at a time; either way by law you are permitted to obtain one free copy of your report per year from each of the reporting agencies.
The only information needed to obtain your free credit report is your date of birth, name, address, and social security number. Each consumer reporting agency will ask for different verifiable information only you know because each of your files have been obtained from different sources.
It is recommended that you check all three and not assume all of them to be correct if the first is, since all companies get their information from different resources; you could have an error on one and not another.
Your FICO Score
FICO is an acronym for Fair Isaac Company which was the company that originally created the system used to condense credit history into one distinct number; major credit agencies, businesses, and bank lenders have adopted this system as a means of evaluation for creditworthiness.
Ultimately, one's credit score is determined by major factors such as amount currently owed to lenders. The general break down of how your score is determined is as follows:
o Outstanding loans, credit cards, and mortgages, and the amount owed on each (as well as the type of debt-revolving, secured, etc.) makes up about 30% of your score.
o At least 35% of your FICO score is based on how successfully you've repaid past debts.
o 15% of your score is based upon how long you have been utilizing credit; a lengthy credit history is of major benefit to you. This is not based on age, either-you can be middle aged with no credit if you do not take loans or use credit accounts, or you can be young with a long history of borrowing and repayment.
o 10% of your credit score is based on the amount of inquiries listed-on how many entities you sought credit from and allowed access to your credit report. Lower numbers of inquiries are better as some lenders tend to view frequent applications of credit in a specific period of time to be negative, and from the standpoint of the credit reporting agencies numerous inquiries indicate that you need to shop many sources to obtain credit.
All of these factors determine the number that makes up your credit score. This one simple number is crucial in enabling you to obtain any type of credit. Scores of 657 to 700 are considered good, and with a score of 700 or above you're likely to be deemed creditworthy by many lenders. If you maintain a score of 600 or below, most likely you will have to invest some time and effort in order to rebuild your credit before applying for any type of loan. In addition, the higher the score the lower the cost of lending will be to you-higher scores net lower interest rates because they are considered less risky, while lower scores show some past trouble and increased risk for the lender, so when credit is offered it will be at a higher rate that allows lenders to recoup more on their loan earlier on.
Understanding credit scores can be difficult, but highly beneficial. When you know more about how banks and lenders evaluate you, and how you can confirm your good rating, you understand where you fall on the lending spectrum, and what options you have for improving your present and future financial situation.