last updated 14 Dec 2018

Credit Reporting Agencies (Credit Bureaus):
TransUnion (www.tuc.com) 1-800-888-4213
EquiFax (www.equifax.com) 1-888-766-0008
Experian (formerly TRW) (www.experian.com) 1-888-397-3742

You should monitor all three credit bureaus because some institutiions only report too one.

As a result of the FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act), each legal U.S. resident is entitled to one free copy of their credit report from each credit reporting agency once every twelve months. This information is available at the government-sanctioned but credit bureau-operated AnnualCreditReport.com

Credit Scores:
The most commonly used score is FICO® (Fair Isaac Corporation)
Determined by:
35% Payment History - Percentage on time in the last 24 months (only includes payments later than 30 days past due).

30% Debt Usage - The amount of debt, expressed as the ratio of current revolving debt (credit card balances, etc.) to total available revolving credit (credit limits)

15% Credit Age - Average length of time (months) you've had each account.

10% Account Mix - Types of credit used (installment, revolving, consumer finance)
The mix of accounts you have--your student loans, auto loans, mortgages, and revolving credit cards make up 10% of your credit score. Creditors like to see this mix because it shows them you're capable of handling all types of accounts.
It seems to be just the number of credit accounts you have.

10% Inquiries - Recent search for credit and/or amount of credit obtained recently
Soft inquiries (e.g. Mortgage application) don't count.

I got a score of 770 with the excellent ratings in all the categories except "Inquiries", but number of inquiries where I got a poor score.
I had 5 inquiries in the last 2 years which put me at the bottom of that category.

See more detailed results of specific factors below.

Sample Credit Report Summary | Credit.com

A FICO score generally ranges from 300 to 850
Median US: 723
769 at Equifax was better than 67%.

Distribution 2018:
FICO Score
Range
Percentage of
U.S. Consumers
Percentage With
Lower Scores
800-850 20.7 79.3
750-799 19.0 60.3
700-749 17.1 43.2
650-699 13.2 30.0
600-649 10.0 20.0
550-599   8.5 11.5
500-549   6.8   4.7
300-499   4.7 N/A
Scores have risen since tail end of the Great Recession in October 2009 (Average = 686), but have leveled off (Average 700)as of 2018.
Note: The average is less than the median because low scores are lower -200 vs high scores +100. Source Score Distributions Archives - FICO

660 is generally regarded as potentially subprime and represents an important break point for creditworthiness.
760 and above should get you the best interest rates.
See Mortgages


Tips of improving credit score:


Score Checking:
American Express:
Free Credit Score & Reports - MyCredit Guide | American Express (2018)
AmEx Launches Credit Score Tool for Everyone - NerdWallet

Chase's Free Credit Score | Credit Journeysm | Chase.com does the same thing.


Scores from the 3 credit bureaus:
I got a score of 778 from my bank, but different scores when I applied for a mortgage from a lender.
Equifax 769, TransUnion 755, Experian 784
Apparently lenders can get different scores based on the type of loan, a mortgage, car loan or new credit card.
Each bureau uses a proprietary algorithm to compute your score which is a predictor of risk based on statistical analysis.
They may also have different information on your credit history.

See Why are my FICO® Scores different for the 3 credit bureaus? | myfico.com

Get monthly or quarterly($30) 3-bureau credit reports from MyFICO
They include things like:
"A bankcard account was removed from your credit report"
"A new inquiry was added to your credit report"
"Your credit score has increased from 758 to 761"

Reason Codes:
When applying for a mortgage they sent a report with scores from all 3 credit bureaus with scores and 4 codes like "18: Too many delinquent accounts".
A lender requires 4 codes to decline a loan based on credit score, so I guess no matter how good your score is they give the lenders a reason to decline.
"Too many delinquent accounts" may be from a couple of payments more than 30 days late over the last 6 years.
So with scores from 755 to 784 they could legally decline a loan based on credit.
These are called "reason codes" or "adverse action codes,"

My bank report showed 100% of payments online, but all three credit bureaus showed "Too many delinquent accounts" as a negative.
Each bureau showed 4 factors which were not consistent. e.g. 18: Too many delinquent accounts" appeared on all 3
Two more codes were on 2 of the reports and 3 codes were on only 1 report.

The description of "18: Number of accounts with delinquency", at Experian says,
"Missed and late payments, including the number of late payments, how late they were, and how recently they occurred."
The explanation from CreditBoards.com below says,
They count anything that was 30 days late from six and a half years ago.

At Making sense of credit scores... - Credit Forum - CreditBoards they show a report similar to the one I got with their comments in red.

Me:
Equifax: (called a beacon score) 749
00014 Length of time accounts have been established

FICO likes to see long established accounts. The averge age of consumers accounts is about 14 years. If yours is under that, you'll most likely get this factor. To me, this is one of the least important of all FICO codes and the one you can do nothing about except let time pass.

00002 level of delinquincy on accounts
You'll get this if you have any deliquent account information on your report, even one 30 day late from six and a half years ago. Based on your scores, I'm guessing you don't have much deliquent account information. If this worries you, dispute the information and try to have it deleted.

00033 proportion of loan balances to loan amounts is too high **(we owe too much on our loans???)**
What a lame reason. You get penalized for having a high balance on an installment loan. Well duh FICO!!!!! Of course the balance is going to be high until the loan is paid down. That's the way installment loans work!!!! salamanders!

00004 too many bank or national revolving accounts **(what are bank or national revolving accounts?)""
Visa, Mastercard, Amex & Discover. FICO only likes to see 2-3 of these.


Experian (Fair Issac model score): 744
14 length of time accounts have been established
See above

05 number of accounts with balances **(I have too many accounts with balances???)"
FICO doesn't like to see too many accounts with balances. What the right number is, nobody knows. This factor is part one of the catch-22.

18 number of accounts delinquent
See above

24 lack of recently reported balances on revolving/open accounts **(what does this mean?)**
Part two of the catch-22. Although FICO doesn't like to see too many accounts with balances, it also doesn't like to see accounts with no balances. Go figure. Ostensibly, this is because accounts with no balances mean you're not using the accounts, and FICO has a tough time figuring out how you use credit if you don't use your accounts.


Trans Union (epirica 950 score): 698
014 insufficient length of credit history
See above

012 insufficient length of revolving credit history
Your credit card history is shorter than the average.

024 no recent revolving balances **(what does this mean?)**
See above

005 too many accounts with balances
See above



My husband' scores and comments:


Equifax - 746
00014 Length of time accounts have been established
00002 level of delinquincy on accounts
00033 proportion of loan balances to loan amounts is too high
00004 too many bank or national revolving accounts



Experian - 764
06 number of finance company accounts **(what does this mean?)**
FICO doesn't like to see finance company loans because these kinds of loans typically are of lower quality than bank loans. To me, a rather stupid reason as you're being penalized for the type of loan rather than having your repayment history of that as the only factor.

14 length of time accounts have been established

09 number of accounts opened within the last 12 months
FICO doesn't like to see too many accounts opened in a short period of time. Sometimes this may mean only one account.

18 number of accounts delinquent


Trans Union - 759
006 too many consumer finance accounts
028 too many established accounts **(does this mean he needs to dispute those accounts that say open but are actually closed?)**
I wouldn't mess with any positive accounts. You may end up getting them deleted rather than edited. 002 delinquency
012 insufficient length of revolving credit history


Keep in mind that you basically have excellent scores. Each of these reasons is only having a minor impact. Don't worry too much about them. If you work on any deliquencies and pay down some of your balances, your scores may go up. If you don't, you still have excellent scores that time will improve even more.

Those comments often can be erroneous, and really you will have no problem quallifying for a great mortgage. I wouldn't get too hung up on the comments because like I said they can be BS",

But the factors are not applied evenly throughout different credit profiles. For example, someone with 10 years of credit history and no negative information present may get the "length of credit history" as a negative factor.
Someone else with only 7 years of history and a whole slew of negatives may get the "length of credit history" as a positive factor. This is because FICO needs to justify it's scores with reasons, but in so doing, often gives specious factors that don't seem unreasonable until the factors and the data behind them are compared to other reports and scores.

Links:
AmEx Launches Credit Score Tool for Everyone - NerdWallet
FICO® Score Factors Guide - Experian |figfcu.com
Free Credit Reports at ftc.gov
BankRate.com's guide to managing your credit
www.myfico.com
Find a service with all 3 scores | Top 10 Credit Report
FICO: Artificial Intelligence + Human Intelligence | FICO(R) FICO: Artificial Intelligence + Human Intelligence | FICO®
https://www.fico.com/en/