A FICO score rating is a credit rating "number" given to consumers. FICO stands for Fair, Isaac and Company and the FICO score rating was developed in 1989. This is a score that is used by lenders sometimes separate from or in addition to a score provided by the three major Credit Reporting Agencies – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax (although Equifax is affiliated with FICO so they will provide you with a FICO score when requesting a credit report).
If you don't know what your FICO score is, you should find out. The reason why this is important is because lenders will determine the type of loan they will offer you based on your credit history, employment history, other factors, credit reports and the FICO score. The numbers range between 350 and 800. The “average” score is about 725 to 750.
Here's general guideline of what the FICO score / rating numbers mean:
750 to 850 - Excellent
660 to 749 - Good
620 to 659 - Fair
350 to 619 - Poor
How is the FICO score rating determined?
As a general rule, following factors help determine your FICO score:
35%, punctuality of payment in the past (only includes payments later than 30 days past due)
30%, the amount of debt, expressed as the ratio of current revolving debt (credit card balances, etc.) to total available revolving credit (credit limits)
15%, length of credit history
10%, types of credit used
10%, recent search for credit and/or amount of credit obtained recently
The following tips are recommended by FICO and credit reporting agencies to improve your FICO score and credit rating:
The most obvious tip: Pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments and collections can have a significantly negative impact on your FICO score.
If you have missed payments, get current and stay current.
Pay off debt rather than move it around.
Re-establish your credit history if you have had problems. Opening new accounts responsibly and paying them off on time may help in the long term. Opening a "secured" credit card (when your credit card limit is matched with a savings account with the lender/bank for the same amount) can help rebuild your credit.
Keep credit cards but manage them responsibly. In general, having credit cards and installment loans (and making timely payments) may help in the long term. Consumers with no credit cards, as an example, can be thought of by lenders as a higher risk than someone who has managed credit cards responsibly.
If you are having trouble paying your creditors, contact them to work out a payment schedule or contact a reputable credit counselor.
Keep credit card and revolving credit balances low.
Apply for and open new credit cards, loans, revolving accounts only as needed.
The best resource in finding out your current score is the myfico website.
For a fee, you can order a report that is compiled from the 3 major credit reporting agencies and will outline your FICO score.
Suze Orman also offers a FICO kit on her website, suzeorman.com, which is also available via the myfico.com site. Suze's website also has excellent info about improving your FICO score and your credit.
In addition to the FICO score, there is a new scoring program called the VantageScore. This program is sponsored by the three national credit reporting agencies and the scoring ranges from 501 to 990.
To learn more about the VantageScore, check out this link.