What is a credit score? Is there a good or bad side to credit scoring? How is a score calculated? What is "FICO"? What are the benefits of credit scoring? What are the down sides?

In a nut shell, a high credit score helps your request for credit to be approved. It can also mean lower interest on loans or even insurance rates. Low credit scores can cause higher rates and loan denials... and even that promotion or new job you were seeking.

How Is A Credit Score Calculated?

The credit granting agency utilizes a computer software designed by folks such as Fair, Isaac. An acceptable point value is established based upon selected criteria which offers the lender insight as to the risk involved with getting the loan.

The loan applicant gives information to the lender which is submitted to a credit bureau. Per Fair, Isaac, the credit bureau then returns a: "credit bureau risk score, commonly known as a FICO score, [which] is a snapshot of your credit risk picture at a particular point in time." Lenders can then determine, 'If I give this person a loan or credit card, will I get paid back on time?'"

Is Credit Scoring Objectivity Questionable?

Fair, Isaac concludes: "Computers don't make lending decisions, lenders do. Computers analyze credit information to produce a score, but individual lenders decide what scores are acceptable for different loans or credit cards."

The problem is that subjectivity has been completely removed in the models. Models should make recommendations not decisions and that is usually not the case today... it is more "expeditious" and "efficient" to rely on the model. The model, then, has become the decision instead of the guide.

What's the Benefit to Credit Scoring?

Consider, what would happen without a model system? In many cases the result would be non standard chaos based upon subjective guesswork and prejudicial criteria. If I am a bald lender and very sensitive to long hair, isn't it possible without a measuring standard to be prejudicial in my decision to loan out my money to a long haired rock musician?

Now add on something a little closer to reality like race, color, creed, etc. None of these should be permitted into the decision making process. But we all know of incidents with objective measures fully in place where it has still happened. How bad would it be without a system, any system, fully in place?

On the other hand, what would happen if very few applications were turned down? There is no standard so how am I, the lender, suppose to know who will and will not pay me back. I can't predict the future. The very reputable and honest person in front of me may well have extraordinary events occur tomorrow. Without some measure of prediction, I could loose more loans then are paid back. That's a tough way to stay in business and not to very welcome at the next meeting of the stockholders.

What Is a "FICO Score" and How Is It Calculated

Information about you is collected from your credit application and other sources. Data includes your bill-paying history, the number and type of accounts you have, late payments, collection actions, outstanding debt, age of your accounts, and other information. Using the Fair, Isaac statistical program or model, creditors compare this information to the credit performance of consumers with similar profiles and award points for each factor that helps predict who is most likely to repay a debt. Thus comes the term "FICO Score" which means, a credit score based on the Fair,Isaac Company (FICO) model.

Credit information is weighted based upon its type and history... the more current the good or bad information, the more weighty the affect. For example a very old 90 day late may be less weighted than a very recent 30 day late. The type of data is also weighted:

1. Past Payment Performance (35% or at least heaviest weight)
2. Credit Utilization (30% or next heaviest)
3. Credit History (15% or third weight)
4. Types of Credit In Use (10% or least weighted)
5. Inquiries (10% or least weighted).

You will find greater detail of the above data in the follow up article, Improving Your Credit Score.

What's a Good Score?

FICO scores can impact the interest you pay on a loan, how much you pay for insurance and a myriad of other decisions. It should also be noted that general US population FICO Scores range

780 to 850 - 20%
740 to 780 - 20%
690 to 740 - 20%
620 to 690 - 20%
Below 620 - 20%

How Can I Get My Score

Though credit REPORTS can be obtained for free as shown in the article referenced below, a credit SCORE will have an associated cost but can be obtained from the same source from which you get a credit report. You wil find all of this information in the article Free Credit Report.

Readers will probably be interested to know Mike, the author of this article, also offers a free debt elimination mini-course via e-mail. You can enroll at Debt Free In 7.5 Years.

Author's Bio: 

Mike has been an Internet Guide/Writer in the field of Credit/Debt Management for over 10 years. His site was awarded Best Of Net by Forbes Publication from 2000 to 2005 with site visitation doubling to over 500,000 average views per month in the last year.

He has also offered debt elimination seminars to businesses and community colleges for the last 9 years, and has written for several publications, and has been interviewed on the radio a number of times.