What is a credit score (FICO score)?
Your credit score (also known as a FICO score) is a number assigned to you based on your credit history. Lenders and other Financial Service Providers use your credit score to summarize your credit risk. There are three different credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Because each bureau generates a unique credit score, a lender may end up with three different credit scores for a loan applicant. Credit scores can range from 300 to 850. The higher the number, the better your score.
Why It Should Matter To You:
Credit scores can have a greater impact on your life than you may realize. All loans, lines of credit, and even access to some services, are now based upon a review of your credit history and credit scores.
Loan approval – Your credit score may be the determining factor when you're seeking a loan approval. Without access to credit, you'd have to pay the entire cost of an item up front. This would place homes, cars, and other big-ticket items out of the reach of most buyers.
Interest rates – Increasingly, lenders "tier" interest rates based on your credit score. Poor credit scores can mean a higher interest rate, which will result in thousands of dollars of additional interest charges over the life of your loan.
Employment – More and more employers now evaluate credit scores as part of their employment criteria. The cost of lost employment opportunity due to a poor credit score can be a major financial and emotional setback to most people.
Insurance rates – Companies selling life, home or auto insurance may use credit scores as a risk factor in determining underwriting approval for a policy. If approved, the insurance premium may be based in part upon your credit score.
Landlords/Service Providers – Landlords often ask to see credit scores to determine whether you're likely to pay your rent on time. Merchants and Utilities who provide monthly services like cable TV, mobile phone or Internet service often use a credit score to determine if they want you as a customer.
How can I improve my low credit score?
If low credit scores are having a negative impact on your financial situation, you have a few options. Most credit bureaus will give you general recommendations for improving your credit score. You can contact Equifax, TransUnion , or Experian for more information.
Maritime Mortgage Corp offers a program through each of the major credit bureaus called "Credit Expert." This program runs your credit report and then lists specific recommendations with the objective of achieving a higher credit score. While results vary on circumstances, Credit Expert has helped many people not only to improve their credit scores, but to also to get a better understanding of the credit system. Customers have found these efforts can pay long-term financial dividends.
To learn more or to find out if Credit Expert can help you, just call us at 1-800-733-7077.