FICO scores were developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation in the 1950s. These credit scores are used by lenders when considering whether to offer mortgages, credit cards or other forms of credit to individuals.
Your FICO score plays a large part in determining whether you will be offered credit, how much and at what interest rate.
FICO scores range from 350 to 850, and the higher your score, the more likely you are to be approved for credit at the most favorable terms.
FICO scores are based on a number of factors, including payment history, account balances, types of credit used, length of credit history and new credit applications.
Each of the three credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion -- calculates your score separately based on their credit report information. Scores can vary among bureaus.
Be sure to check your credit reports regularly. Incorrect information can have a negative effect on your credit score, but can be easily corrected.
Ben Bontekoe is a published writer with an extensive background in personal finance, banking, career counseling and education. A graduate of Calvin College, he has worked for major financial institutions including Bank of America and Citibank.