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FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, which is the company that created the industry standard credit scores used by almost all lenders. FICO has been in business since the 1950s but began building the famous FICO score in the mid 1980s. FICO scores range in value from 350 to 850, however, keep in mind that there are other rating systems out there such as NextGen FICO and VantageScore that use different rating systems. The standard FICO score is still the most widely recognized and used.

Over 740 : All loan programs and the best rates are available to individuals with this score. With 20% down individual would not be charged any additional points on their loan.

720 – 739 : Excellent score allows individuals to get exceptions and still qualifies them for the best rates. With 20% down individual would be charged 1/4 additional points on their loan.

700 – 719 : Good score, however individual would start to see pricing changes of 3/4 points with 20% down.

680 – 699 : Okay score, however individuals not putting 20% down can be turned away. Would typically experience 1.5 points with 20% down.

660 – 679 : Barely passing score won’t be able to overcome other problems in the file and will experience 2.5 points with 20% down.

620 – 659 : Individual will experience large pricing add-ons of 3 points and will need to meet and exceed ALL other guidelines to be approved.

600 – 619 : Individual will have a very limited number of programs they will qualify for and will be charged 3 points with 20% down.

599 & Below : You will most likely not qualify for any loan products.

Co-Signing a loan does not improve chances of of approval, as the lender will use the ruling credit score, or lowest scores between the borrower and co-borrowers.

Most lenders will require at least 3 trade lines on the credit report having a 12 month, good-standing history.

DO NOT close your oldest credit accounts as the length of your credit history is very important piece of your score.

Dormant accounts do not help your history. Use all accounts at least ONCE A YEAR.

The best way to improve or create a credit history is to get (2) major credit cards and (1) installment loan such as a car loan. This person can achieve a 750 credit score with 12 months of history of accounts in good-standing.

Do not get “same-as-cash” credit lines or Finance Company Loans as they hurt your score. Fair Isaac found that individuals were 3x more likely to go delinquent on a loan if individual had a finance company account. This is largely because those loan products have extremely high interest rates and its assumed that you did not qualify for more attractive financing.

People with no credit accounts pose a higher risk statistically, therefore it is best to have between 2 – 4 open lines of credit.

Credit inquiries, or “Pulling Your Credit” only accounts for 10% of your total credit score (approximately 43 points).

Each individual inquiry can’t hurt your score by more than 5 points each. Thus, only 7 – 10 credit inquiries matter to your score; after that they do not negatively affect your score.

People with 6 or more inquiries over a two-year span are 8x more likely to declare bankruptcy.

Being 30+ days late on a bill can cost you between 60 – 110 points, depending on payment history.

Maxing a credit card can cost between 10 – 60 points based on balance-to-limit ratios.

Thirty days or less late will not affect your credit score even if late fees are assessed as this can be part of the lenders grace period.

Bankruptcy can cause a loss of 130 – 240 points; those with the best credit scores will be hurt the most.

Be sure that your credit institution is reporting your credit limits and not the balance on the previous months bill. This will appear to the credit scoring model as though you are maxed out.

Get a copy of your credit report from all (3) credit bureaus individually. Not every incident is reported to every credit agency, so you may see things that show up on one report, but not on another. If you dispute an item to all (3) bureaus, you might accidentally report a negative dispute to a bureau that didn’t have it. Receive your free, annual report by calling 877-322-8228 or visiting the web at www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the only AUTHORIZED source for a free annual credit report from the (3) nationwide consumer reporting companies. It will not include your credit score; they expect you to pay for that.

DO NOT DISPUTE EVERYTHING AT ONCE. This can flag your disputes as ‘frivolous’ and they may discredit your claims.

Clean up your records by removing duplicate listings for the same collection.

Be sure your credit lines are reporting your actual credit limit and not just the balance of your last billing. This can make you appear to be maxed out.

Be sure paid, closed accounts are reflected as such. If no balance is shown, DON’T MESS WITH IT.

The credit system is voluntary and bureaus can’t force a creditor to report your history. If you have an account that isn’t showing up and has always been in good standing, ask that creditor and the credit bureau to report your payment history.

If you have a collection that you intend to payoff, but you are within the 30 day window of mortgage application or closing, work out a deal to pay the settlement off at closing on the HUD. Paying off the collection can drop your score down due to creating new activity on the record.

Opt-out of prescreened offers of credit and insurance companies by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT or by visiting the web at www.optoutprescreen.com.

Ask creditors to raise your credit limit. This will lower your ratios and boost your score. Inquiries from current creditors do not impact your score.

Pay off and close all department store, gas company, and finance company accounts. This type of account tends to reduce credit scores, unless this is your only credit.