Your Credit Score: What it means
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Before lenders decide to lend you money, they have to know that you are willing and able to pay back that mortgage. To figure out your ability to pay back the loan, lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio. To assess how willing you are to repay, they use your credit score.
Fair Isaac and Company formulated the original FICO score to help lenders assess creditworthiness. We've written a lot more on FICO here.
Credit scores only assess the info in your credit profile. They never consider your income, savings, amount of down payment, or personal factors like gender, race, nationality or marital status. Fair Isaac invented FICO specifically to exclude demographic factors. Credit scoring was developed as a way to take into account solely that which was relevant to a borrower's willingness to pay back the lender.
Deliquencies, payment behavior, debt level, length of credit history, types of credit and the number of credit inquiries are all calculated into credit scoring. Your score is calculated from the good and the bad of your credit history. Late payments count against your score, but a record of paying on time will improve it.
Your credit report must have 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 payment history ensures that there is sufficient information in your report to calculate a score. Some folks don't have a long enough credit history to get a credit score. They should spend some time building credit history before they apply.