Credit Scoring

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Before deciding on what terms they will offer you a loan (which they base on their risk), lenders want to discover two things about you: whether you can pay back the loan, and your willingness to repay the loan. To assess your ability to pay back the loan, lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio. To assess your willingness to repay, they use your credit score.

The most widely used credit scores are FICO scores, which Fair Isaac & Company, a financial analytics agency, developed. The FICO score ranges from 350 (very high risk) to 850 (low risk). We've written a lot more on FICO here.

Credit scores only assess the information contained in your credit reports. They do not consider income, savings, down payment amount, or factors like gender, ethnicity, nationality or marital status. Fair Isaac invented FICO specifically to exclude demographic factors. "Profiling" was as dirty a word when FICO scores were invented as it is in the present day. Credit scoring was developed to assess a borrower's willingness to repay the loan without considering any other demographic factors.

Your current debt level, past late payments, length of your credit history, and other factors are considered. Your score reflects both the good and the bad in your credit report. Late payments count against you, but a record of paying on time will improve it.

Your report should contain at least one account which has been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been updated in the past six months for you to get a credit score. This history ensures that there is enough information in your credit to build an accurate score. Some borrowers don't have a long enough credit history to get a credit score. They may need to spend some time building up credit history before they apply.

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