What Are the Different Types of Credit Scores?
Your credit score is a three-digit number — ranging from 300 to 850 — that demonstrates your financial health and ability to repay debt. Your credit score is calculated based on the activity on your credit reports, provided by the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The two most widely used types of credit scores are FICO Score and VantageScore.
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What are the different credit scoring models?
The two most common credit scoring models are FICO Score and VantageScore. Both are designed to measure how likely you are to be able to pay back debt and are used to inform lending decisions.
What is a FICO Score?
FICO Score was developed by Fair Isaac Corporation and was made available to consumers in 1989. It is currently used by 90% of lenders.
A FICO Score ranges from 300 to 850, and the higher your score, the more creditworthy you’re considered to be.
|Credit rating||Credit scores||Impact on applicant|
|Poor||300 to 579||May be required to pay a fee or deposit, or may not be approved for credit at all.|
|Fair||580 to 669||Below average score, considered a subprime borrower who may have difficulty repaying debt.|
|Good||670 to 739||Near the average consumer score. Not considered likely to become seriously delinquent in the future.|
|Very good||740 to 799||Likely to receive better than average rates from lenders.|
|Exceptional||800 to 850||Likely to receive the best rates from lenders.|
What is a VantageScore?
In 2006, the three major credit bureaus created VantageScore as an alternative to the FICO Score to better address changes in behavioral trends and advances in data collection.
VantageScore is used by more than 2,600 financial institutions. The most current versions of VantageScore (3.0 and 4.0) utilize the same credit score range as the FICO Score (300 to 850).
However, while it can take up to six months of credit activity to generate a FICO Score, your VantageScore is created as soon as your first credit account is reported to the credit bureaus.
|Credit rating||Credit scores||Impact on applicant|
|Very poor||300 to 499||Lenders may see you as a credit risk and are unlikely to approve your application for credit.|
|Poor||500 to 600||May be approved for some credit, though interest rates may be high, credit limits may be low and larger down payments may be required.|
|Fair||601 to 660||May be approved for credit, but rates are not likely to be competitive.|
|Good||661 to 780||Likely to be approved for credit with competitive rates.|
|Excellent||781 to 850||Most likely to receive favorable rates and terms on credit accounts.|
Other types of credit scores
FICO Score and VantageScore are the most widely used credit scores by lenders, but they aren’t the only ones. Some lenders use custom scoring models created by in-house statisticians or external third parties.
FICO also generates multiple types of scores, each focusing on a different type of credit usage, including:
- FICO Score 8 and 9: The most widely used versions of FICO
- FICO Bankcard: Used for credit cards
- FICO Score 2, 4 and 5: Used for mortgage lending
- FICO Auto Score: Used for auto loans
- FICO Score 10, 10T, Auto Score 10 and Bankcard Score 10: Newest versions of FICO Scores, not yet widely implemented
Why do I have so many credit scores?
Each of the three major credit bureaus compiles its own credit report, which is then used to generate your consumer credit score.
The information reported to one credit bureau isn’t necessarily shared with the others, which may lead to different scores. For instance, some lenders may only report your activity to one of the credit bureaus while others may report to two or all three.
Since each bureau has its own algorithm to create your credit score, it’s a good idea to pull reports from all three bureaus when checking your credit. Ideally, there won’t be any significant differences between the three of them.
Plus, there are different versions of these credit scores because the credit scoring companies routinely update their formulas. Some lenders may rely on older versions of a FICO Score or VantageScore while others use the latest model, which may lead to further discrepancies between scores.
However, these discrepancies shouldn’t lead to wildly different scores. If you find big differences of, say, 50 to 100 points or more, then you should review your credit reports to find out what’s triggering that difference. It could be as simple as a credit card account not being recorded by one credit bureau, or a late payment recorded by one credit bureau but not the others.
Finally, know that when you check your credit score, it’s a snapshot in time: Your scores rise and fall based on lender-reported activity, such as payments, balances, accounts opened or closed and more.
What is a good credit score?
According to FICO, a score between 670 and 739 is considered to be a good credit score and can help you secure lower interest rates on your mortgage, car loan or any other type of credit.
When it comes to VantageScore, if you fall within the 661 to 780 range, your credit score is considered to be good. You’ll have better borrowing opportunities with a good score than if your credit was fair or poor.
How are credit scores calculated?
Your credit score is calculated based on the activity on your credit reports. Each event is weighted differently, so while some activity can have a substantial impact on your credit score, others events will be minor.
How is your FICO credit score calculated?
There are five factors that determine your FICO Score, with your payment history and amounts owed being the most impactful to your score.
- Payment history: 35%
- Amounts owed: 30%
- Length of credit history: 15%
- New credit: 10%
- Credit mix: 10%
How is your VantageScore calculated?
While both FICO Score and VantageScore take payment history heavily into consideration, VantageScore 3.0 (the most commonly used model) takes factors such as your debt balances and available credit into account.
- Payment history: 40%
- Depth of credit: 21%
- Credit utilization: 20%
- Balances: 11%
- Recent credit: 5%
- Available credit: 3%
How to check your credit scores and reports
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to access your credit score and to know what’s on your credit report.
Understanding your credit score before applying for a new credit card or loan can give you insight into whether you may qualify for new credit and what interest rates you can expect.
You can check your credit for free in several ways without negatively impacting your score.
- Credit bureaus: Consumers can get their credit score from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can request your FICO Score from Experian every 30 days, and get your VantageScore from Equifax and TransUnion.
- Your bank or credit union: If you have an account with a bank or credit union, ask if they offer a free credit score tool. For instance, Wells Fargo offers its customers free monthly access to their FICO Score.
- Your lender: Some lenders and credit card issuers provide access to your credit score. If you’re a Discover cardholder, for example, you can get your FICO Score through Discover Credit Scorecard.
- Third-party platform: You can view your VantageScore for free through the LendingTree platform. LendingTree also offers access to your credit reports.
It’s also important to check your credit reports, since the activity reported on them impacts your credit scores.
You can receive a free copy of your credit report from each bureau annually through AnnualCreditReport.com. Be sure to examine each of your reports to catch any potential errors, which can have an adverse effect on your credit scores.
If you notice incorrect information on your credit report, you should file a dispute with the credit reporting company to request that the inaccurate information be removed. Be very clear about what is wrong and why, and provide documentation that substantiates your claim.