What is your FICO score and why is it so important

Published: 21st May 2007
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In an epic ending to 1999's hit movie "Fight Club", both Helena Bonham Carter's and Edward Norton's characters stand in a high rise building, watching through a window as all of the surrounding credit card company buildings implode and collapse around them. Many moviegoers-whether consciously, unconsciously or subconsciously-took satisfaction in that apocalyptic scene where everyone's credit card debts had instantly been obliterated.

However, it was only a scene in a movie. Besides, it is a bad FICO score that is the root of the problem for those who cannot buy their dream home or get that much-needed car loan. And for those of us in the real world, the all important FICO score is here to stay. Credit card debt is one bit of data that comprises the FICO, but there are several other factors. And those factors can be mitigated if a person knows exactly what a FICO score is and why it so important.

The FICO score is a telltale sign of a person's ability and habit in paying bills. The score tells a potential lender whether a person's behavior towards her/his finances is responsible or neglectful. The higher it is, the better a person is looked upon by lenders, car dealers, credit card companies, etc. There are a few aspects that go into composing the final FICO score that can be completely improved by a positive, more responsible change in a person's financial behavior. The composition of the FICO score includes:

  • The number of late payments on bills, bankruptcies-personal and business, and other instances where someone may have dropped the proverbial ball in her/his finances. The fewer late payments, the better your score -- though a recent late payment hurts your score more than one from five years ago.

  • Any extremely large debts. What a person owes on credit cards and on the balances of loans are very revealing of a person's behavior with her/his finances. A mortgage company will look at a person as a huge risk if they use a lot of offered credit. This will appear to a company that a person is taking advantage of credit without assuming the responsible consequences of paying the bill.

  • How long a person has had credit. How long a person has had credit cards, credit accounts, and how much they use them demonstrates a person's financial pattern. A lending company can determine if a person is constantly making on-the-spot purchases or if she/he is more discriminating in their purchases. If so, a discerning withdrawal pattern shows responsibility and that careful consideration goes into purchases. This shows that a person is consistent in most of their financial dealings. The length of a person's credit history is also important because it will provide more detailed information to the creditor about a persons credit.

  • New and recent applications for credit. Several applications for different types of credit or the same kind in short period of time could be indicative of a person's poor handling of finances. This could mean that a person is good at borrowing money but not at paying it, which would turn lenders off.

  • Types of credit. This includes credit cards, home mortgages and loans, etc.

Other dynamics such as length of time a person has worked at varying places of employment and the value of other owned properties can influence a lender in the decision making process. However, American law forbids personal information like ethnicity, religion, sex or marital status from being considered, just as no one can legally be denied the right to take up residence anywhere for those dame reasons. By putting a little extra effort towards improving the different aspects of the FICO score, credit card companies and loan companies may become a bit nicer. And, unlike in "Fight Club", a person could feel a little bit friendlier towards them in the end.

About Author

Grant Eckert is a writer for Absolute Mortgage Company. Absolute Mortgage Company is a leading provider of Home Mortgage Lender| Mortgage Refinancing

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