Your FICO score

FICO score

Click the image above to see how a FICO score is calculated (via Norada Real Estate)

Your FICO score is a number that corresponds to your credit report. It is calculated using a formula created by the Fair Isaac Company (i.e., FICO). Scores range from 300 to 850, with a higher number reflecting a healthier credit history — and a less risky borrower to financial institutions. Lenders will use your FICO score in addition to your credit report when determining loan offers.

Earlier this week, I wrote that you could get your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com. While the report is free, your credit scores are not. You can order your Equifax FICO score through annualcreditreport.com for $7.95. However, the TransUnion and Experian scores given through that site are your VantageScores. This is a less widely used credit score that uses a different formula and potentially different credit items. To get your TransUnion and Experian FICO scores, you can order them from myFICO.com for $19.95 each.

If you don’t want to pay to see your FICO score, a careful review of your credit history and an understanding of how your score is calculated can give you a general understanding of your credit health. To that end, check out Norada Real Estate’s infographic on FICO scores. You won’t be able to estimate your score with this information, but understanding what influences your credit score can help you identify positive and negative items on your credit report, as well as positive and negative behaviors in your spending habits. With this knowledge, you can set out to improve your credit score over time.

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