The most widely used credit scoring model is the FICO® score. Your FICO score is a three-digit number somewhere between 300 and 850 that tells lenders how much risk you represent as a borrower. Your score is important because it can determine what financial products and services, as well as interest rates, you can qualify for. If you have a low (or no) score, however, you may be able to improve or build it using the UltraFICO® Score.
What is UltraFICO? This is a relatively new scoring model that includes banking activity not normally factored into your credit score. By incorporating information from your savings and checking accounts, you may be able to increase your FICO credit score and, in turn, your chances of getting approved for credit, as well as qualifying for better rates.
However, UltraFICO isn’t a cure-all. It’s only used by one of the credit bureaus (Experian), and isn’t offered by all lenders. Plus, it won’t result in a huge boost in your score. Here’s what you need to know about UltraFICO.
How Does UltraFICO Work?
UltraFICO is a tool that allows you to voluntarily include banking activity not normally considered by the credit bureaus in your credit score calculation.
To understand how UltaFICO works, it helps to understand how your FICO credit score is calculated. While FICO keeps their exact methodology under wraps, your score is primarily based on the following criteria:
• Debt payment history (35% of your score) This looks at whether you make your debt payments on time. Late payments can negatively impact your score. So can accounts in collections or a bankruptcy.
• Credit utilization (30%) Also known as amounts owed, this is how much of your available revolving credit you’re currently using. Utilizing less of your available credit at any one given time is generally better than using more. Ideally, you want to aim to use 30% or less of your available credit.
• Length of credit history (15%) Having a longer history with creditors is better than being new to credit.
• New credit (10%) Applying for new credit cards or loans (and initiating a hard credit pull) can temporarily lower your score. For this reason, it’s a good idea to research credit card offerings and eligibility requirements before applying for one.
• Credit mix (10%) Having a mix of different types of credit (such as a credit card and an installment loan like a mortgage) can positively influence your score.
The UltraFICO scoring model expands the information included in your credit score by considering such factors as:
• Length of time you’ve had your bank accounts open (checking, savings and money market)
• Your activity in those bank accounts
• Proof that you have cash in those accounts (ideally, at least $400)
• Whether your overdraft often
• If you have direct deposit of your paycheck
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How Do You Get an UltraFICO Score?
If you apply for new debt, such as a credit card or personal loan, and are denied because your score is low or you don’t have enough credit history to generate a FICO Score, you can ask the lender to pull your UltraFICO score. You might also ask a lender to pull your UltraFICO score if you are offered a credit card or loan with a high interest rate in the hopes of getting a better offer.
In some cases, a lender might invite you to participate in the UltraFICO scoring process after you submit an application for a credit card or loan. This is most likely to happen if your score is on the edge of acceptance or there simply isn’t enough information in your credit report to generate a FICO score.
If a lender offers UltraFICO, you will be directed to a secure site to answer questions about your banking relationships. By doing this, you’re allowing the credit bureau to look at your checking, savings, and money market accounts in order to try to get the boost you need to qualify for credit.
Who Will UltraFICO Benefit?
On their website, FICO states that the UltraFICO score will broaden access to credit for young or immigrant applicants who are just starting to build their credit profile, as well as those who are those who are trying to reestablish their credit after financial distress. They also say that the new scoring model will be able to help borrowers who are near score cut-offs, giving them access to credit they wouldn’t otherwise qualify for.
While UltraFICO isn’t likely to dramatically change the outcome of your credit card or loan application, it might be enough to bump you into the next higher range which may make a difference if you were on the borderline of acceptance.
You’ll want to keep in mind, however, that UltraFICO is only available through some lenders. In addition, only Experian offers UltraFICO. Your credit reports with the other two consumer credit bureaus — Equifax and Transunion — won’t be affected by this service.
Your credit score can make or break your ability to get a credit card, mortgage, or any type of personal loan. It can also determine the interest rate you’re offered, which can make a big difference in the total cost of a loan.
The new scoring model UltraFICO could help your FICO score improve if you have consistently maintained positive bank account balances. However, it’s not offered by all lenders and creditors, so it isn’t always an option. Fortunately, there are other ways to build or improve your credit profile. These include consistently paying your bills on time, tapping only a portion of your available credit lines, and using a mix of different types of credit.
Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.
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