Understanding your credit score can be hard. And to make things even more confusing, you may have heard that there are different types of credit scores.
No matter what credit score model you use, it’s important to understand what your score means and how it is calculated. Use this guide to learn the difference between credit score, FICO Score, and VantageScore.
Types of Credit Scores
The term “credit score” encompasses several types of credit scoring models. These scores tell both the consumer and lenders where your credit stands. Each score is calculated and used differently depending on the circumstances.
The most common types of credit scores used are VantageScores and FICO Scores.
What is a FICO Score?
The term “FICO score” is often used interchangeably with the term “credit score.”
Since 1956, FICO (formerly called Fair Isaac Corporation) has provided different types of credit scoring services to help lenders and creditors evaluate their customers’ creditworthiness.
They created the FICO score in 1981. This model evaluates a credit report and generates a score between 300 and 850. This score is then used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness.
What is a VantageScore?
In 2006, the 3 major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian – joined forces to create VantageScores® to compete with FICO. One of the bureaus, Experian, even went so far as to stop offering FICO score information to consumers.
Since then, they’ve been aggressively marketing VantageScore. The most current version is VantageScore 3.0, which uses a scale the same scale as FICO, ranging from 300 to 850. You can get your VantageScore when you order a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com
What Is The Difference Between FICO vs Vantage Scores?
One way the two main credit score models differ is through their representation of your credit history. This is based on the method each model uses to pull your credit history.
A FICO credit score is determined by a snapshot of all the available credit history data when your score was originally created. A VantageScore focuses more on your credit history and informs lenders of your credit behavior.
Both types of credit scores use a variety of similar factors to generate your credit score. However, the defining difference is how much these factors influence your score. While both scores look at your credit history to examine your credit usages, balances, payment history, and inquiries, each score is influenced differently by each factor.
Some of the factors that affect your credit score include:
– Length of Credit History
In order to generate a FICO score, you must have at least six months of credit history with at least one active account. VantageScore only requires one month of credit history in the past two years.
– Late Payment Penalties
Although both scores are affected by late payments, each model penalizes scores for late payments differently. For example, VantageScores issue higher penalties for late mortgage penalties than FICO. If you’re having a hard time making your payments, talk to a debt coach for free today!
– Collections Penalties
When you have a credit account that has been sent to collections, both FICO and VantageScore credit scores will be negatively affected. VantageScore will ignore all collections accounts once they have been paid off, and FICO will ignore accounts that are paid off or have an original balance under $100.
– Hard Inquiry Grace Period
When you’re actively looking for a loan, both credit scoring models have a grace period that counts all similar credit pulls as one. VantageScore has a grace period of 14 days, while FICO has a grace period of 45.
VantageScore vs. FICO Score Conversion
There is no official method of converting a VantageScore to a FICO score. Because each scoring uses different criteria and methods of pulling data, it’s nearly impossible to convert. However, keeping both scores in mind can give you a much more well-rounded understanding of your credit health.
For example, let’s say you have a VantageScore of 723. This is approximate to a FICO score of 621. On the VantageScore model, your score is just above the line of good credit. However, it is right at the cutoff that separates prime from subprime on the FICO model.
What does this mean? You could interpret it as a positive outlook on your credit habits (thanks to the higher VantageScore) but a less than perfect credit history (based on the FICO score.) This information is vital in helping you make moves to improve both of your scores for future purposes.
Which Type of Credit Score is Most Common?
Although both scores are useful, most lenders use FICO scores to evaluate potential borrowers.
How to Get Your Credit Score
In the past, the only way to receive your credit score was by purchasing it through one of the major credit bureaus. Now, there are a number of free apps and websites that allow you to see your general credit report for free.
Most online bank sites have an option to view your credit score for free. You can also sign up for tools like CreditWise from Capital One or Experian, to keep track of your scores and see how to improve them.
When you visit some websites to get your free report, you will be offered the opportunity to purchase your credit score. This score is your VantageScore. But as most lenders use FICO, it may not be worth your money to buy your score from that vendor.
To learn more about credit scores, check out our Understanding Your Credit Reports and Scores course. Or, if you’re looking to improve your credit score, check out our free personal finance education & classes.