Are You Paying for Useless Credit Scores?
Many consumers aren't aware that credit scores from well-known agencies and bureaus are useless when it comes to buying a home.
You need to be aware of what your credit score numbers are, especially when preparing to buy a home. Often times, you'll find that you need to pay for your credit scores. Naturally, you would think that a credit score is a credit score, especially when you have to pay to get it. Unfortunately, there are several highly advertised, seemingly reputable online companies that provide you with meaningless credit scores that aren't recognized by your home lender.
Not All Credit Scores Are the Same
I learned this lesson the hard way when I was preparing to buy a home. A few years prior, I missed some credit card payments and my credit suffered. Upon the realization that I screwed up, I vowed to never let it happen again. I set out to fix my credit by devouring a thick book on credit repair. I then chose the best credit monitoring service that I could find and started paying them a monthly fee for monitoring my credit and providing all three of my credit scores from the three major credit bureaus, whenever I wanted them. I made sure my bills were always paid on time and worked on the steps to repair my credit. My credit scores slowly climbed back to life over the course of the next eighteen months. That's right- eighteen months. If you think that you can just write a check and have great credit overnight, think again!
The Credit Bureaus and Credit Scores Range
The three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Trans Union and Experian) or credit reporting agencies reported that my scores were in the high 700's, a significant improvement from where I started out. Credit scores can range from the 300's to the mid 800's. If your credit score is 720 or greater, you are considered to have great credit and should have no problems obtaining a home loan from the credit perspective. Excited that my continuous efforts to improve my credit had paid off, I called up my Mortgage Broker, told him I was ready to buy a home and setup an appointment.
I printed my credit report and score from each bureau just before our meeting and cheerfully shared the numbers when I arrived. My mortgage broker congratulated me and said that he still had to pull my credit from his system. A few moments later, he told me that my credit scores were ranging in the low to mid 600's and not in the high 700's like I told him. 'There must be a mistake' I told him. It was then that I learned my lesson. He said that I must not have been getting my FICO score, which is what lenders pay attention to. He affectionately referred to all other credit scores as FAKOs.
I was floored that not only was I unable to buy a house yet, but how could I not have known about this? Any type of credit score other than your FICO score is meaningless to nearly all lenders. So what good are they then? When pressed, these agencies explain that they're providing a 'consumer education score'. It's unfortunate that they are able to call this 'consumer education score' a credit score.
Go Straight To The Source For Your Credit Scores
Now you know to ask if the credit score you're getting is your FICO score, as it's the only score that matters to lenders when it comes to qualifying for a home purchase. All other FAKOs use a different method of calculating your credit score, which makes those scores irrelevant. I recommend pulling your credit reports and scores from https://myfico.com so that you can bypass this confusion and go straight to the source.