Everyone should know their credit score. However, a credit score is calculated using several ways and it is never just one number.
Your credit score is a simple way of portraying your credit history—it is compiled into a number that tells lenders the risk they’ll be taking if they offer you a loan.
There are two main ways of estimating your credit score: the VantageScore and the FICO Score. This article seeks to explain the two and how they affect your journey to getting good credit.
Defining a Credit Score
‘Credit Score’ is a general term encompassing the various models used to calculate a 3-digit number, from 300 to 850. This number shows your creditworthiness. A good credit score means higher chances of getting approved for credit. And not just that; you also get lower interest rates.
Unused credit, total debt load, payment history and other information about your credit are reported to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These are the major credit bureaus. They use an algorithm to translate that data into a credit score.
When you seek new credit, the lender requests for that information from one of the credit bureaus.
Each of the three bureaus will gather and organize your data in a different way. So they will most likely give you a different score.
The Credit Scoring Models
The VantageScore and the FICO Score are the most commonly used models. The financial institution asking for the report determines which model will be checked.
This one ranges from 300, which is very bad credit to 850, which is considered exceptional credit. This model is the most common one and almost all of the top lenders use it.
Fair Isaac Corporation came up with the model in the ’90s. The biggest mortgage companies, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae started using it in 1995 to determine loan applicants’ credit risk.
Over a dozen FICO Score versions have emerged and the most used one is the FICO8, devised in 2009. The rest of the versions are slightly different depending on how they are used.
The FICO8 Score Ranges
- 350 – 579: Very Poor Credit
- 580 – 669: Fair Credit
- 670 – 739: Good Credit
- 740 – 799: Very Good Credit
- 800 – 850: Exceptional Credit
FICO8 Score Components and Their Weight
- Payment history: 35%
- Amounts owed: 30%
- Length of credit history: 15%
- New credit: 10%
- Credit mix: 10%
Getting Your FICO Score
You can refer to your credit card statement. Some issuers let their customers know their FICO Scores for free every month. Alternatively, get it from Experian for free at http://www.freecreditscore.com/ .
This is another major scoring model that the credit bureaus came up with. It also has multiple versions and ranges from 300 to 850. The standard version is the VantageScore 3.0. The main difference between VantageScore and FICO is that with the former you’ll get a score even with a short credit history.
VantageScore 3.0 Ranges
- 350 – 630: Poor Credit
- 630 – 690: Fair Credit
- 690 – 720: Good Credit
- 720 – 850: Excellent Credit
Vantage 3.0 Components and their Weight
- Payment history: 40%
- Depth of credit: 21%
- Utilization: 20%
- Balances: 11%
- Recent credit: 5%
- Available credit: 3%
Getting Your VantageScore
Most banks let you know your VantageScore every month for free. Alternatively, opt for Credit Sesame. They will give you your TransUnion VantageScore for free.
Your FICO Score and VantageScore may be similar in most cases, but that doesn’t happen every time. Sometimes, they will vary by almost 100 points because the models are different. You don’t have to keep up with both models. One is enough as it will let you know where you stand.