You’re Not Just a Number
The three-digit number that represents your credit score will be important when it comes to buying and
financing a home. A difference of a few points could make a difference in the rate you’ll pay for your mortgage.
Mortgage lenders will typically use the middle of the three credit scores to determine the rate/program for
which you qualify.
But that doesn’t mean you need to obsess about your score. Doing so can cause you unnecessary grief. After all:
Trying to tweak your scores based on what you think may help improve them can sometimes have the opposite
There are many different loan programs with different credit score requirements. A loan officer can help you
shop around to find the right program to meet your needs.
Keep in mind that you have many scores, not just one, so trying to figure out which scores matter most can be
an exercise in futility. When it comes time to apply, your lender will pull the credit scores needed to process
your application. In the meantime, you can find out where you stand and get an idea of what factors may be
strong, and which may not be. Again, no need to obsess over the number.
In fact, when we included a free credit score with our free Credit Report Card — one of our most popular tools
— we wanted to make sure that consumers understand that they don’t have a single score. That’s why we
provide an Experian score, but also show consumers their VantageScore along with it. After all, there are
dozens of scores available at any given time, and if you focus on just a single number, you may miss the bigger
See Where You StandGet your free Credit Report Card. See your credit score & how you
compare to others. Plus, learn ways to improve your score. Always free & updated every 30 days.
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What’s in a Number?
If focusing on the number that represents your credit score isn’t the most important thing, then what is?
Understanding the elements that make up your scores can be much more important. Our Credit Report Card, for
example, assigns a grade to each of the main factors that go into a score:
Within those, we recommend you put your efforts toward the things you can control. If you get a “C” or “D” for
a particular factor, you’ll get suggestions for things you may do to address that grade. Some of these may be
things you can address immediately while some may not be under your direct control.
If you earn a “D” for debt usage because your balances on one or more of your credit cards is close to your
limits, you may want to pay some of them down if you have the cash available to do so. On the other hand, if
you have a large student loan balance that you can’t afford to pay off, you may want to simply focus on making
your payments on time rather than taking all the money you’ve saved for a down payment to pay it off.
[Related Article: What's A Credit Score, Really]
What Can Your Score Do For You When Buying a Home?
When it comes to buying a home, your credit scores can help you secure the financing you need to buy the
property and pay it off over time. Your credit scores are a tool to help you achieve your personal and financial
goals. If you can get the loan you need with the credit scores you have, then be satisfied with that — even if you
don’t have the best score your loan officer has seen!
And finally, it’s important to put your scores in context. Mortgage lenders will look at other factors, like your
debt-to-income ratios, employment history, and down payment. As any loan officer can tell you, even a perfect
score can’t get you a loan if you can’t document your income.
You’re Not Just a Number