How Many Credit Scores Do I Have? | CCCS of Rochester
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How Many Credit Scores Do I Have?

Often we hear from our clients that they checked their credit score through a free site such as Credit Karma and were shown a high credit score but yet, when they went to get a loan or purchase a vehicle, they were then advised by the lender that their credit score was not high enough.  How is this possible?  Two different credit scores based on two very different models is the reason behind this occurrence.

The most common credit misconception is that there is only one score; when in reality, there are several dozen credit scores.  Consumers in fact have multiple FICO scores, which vary based on which credit bureau is used to supply the data in the scoring formula.  

The FICO score and the Vantage Score are two different scoring models. The Vantage Score was developed by all three credit reporting companies: Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.  FICO scores are developed by Fair Isaac Corporation, hence the term FICO.


FICO vs. Vantage Score

Let’s talk about FICO credit score first:

•In 1958 Fair Isaac Corp. created the first credit score model.

•In ’81 they created the first scoring models for credit agencies.

•In ’89 they launched the first FICO score for general-purpose.

FICO uses five factors from your credit report to calculate a three-digit rating. Things considered are:

1. Bill payment history – 35%

2. Total owed debt – 30%

3. Length of your credit history – 15%

4. Mix of credit types you have – 10%

5. How often you’ve applied for credit in the past – 10%

This produces a number between 100 and 850.  Most creditors will set a cut off score in this range. For example, a borrower with a FICO credit score below 620 is often considered poor and will receive the highest interest rates, strictest terms, and more denial letters altogether.

The three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – have to pay Fair Isaac to license and use the FICO scoring model. So the three of them created the Vantage credit score for their own use to save money.  However, FICO is still the gold standard for lending/credit decisions.  FICO scores are used in “more than 90% of lending decisions,” and by 90 of the top 100 largest U.S. financial institutions.


Now let’s talk Vantage Score:

•In March of 2006 the first version was launched. The Vantage Score range at the time was 501 to 990 (versus FICO’s 300 to 850).

•In October 2010 the second version -2.0- was launched. It still ran on the same score range.

•In 2013, the score switched to a 300-to-850 range with its 3.0 model to more closely follow FICO.

The Vantage Score uses six variables from your credit report to give you both a three-digit rating and a letter grade from A to F. The six variables include:

1. Bill payment history – 32%

2. How much of your available credit you’ve used – 23%

3. Total debt including loans – 15%

4. Types of credit you’ve had and the length of your credit history – 13%

5. How often you’ve applied for credit in the past – 10%

6. Amount of credit you have available on your credit cards – 7%

Every 100 points on the score generates a letter grade. For example, a person with an 750 Vantage Score would have a “B” credit rating.


One big difference between the FICO Score and Vantage Score is that collections accounts, reported paid or not, are factored into your FICO score.  Collections accounts that have been reported as paid in full are not factored into your Vantage Score.  While paid collections accounts can still remain on your report for up to seven years, the decision to not include them in the Vantage Score helps consumers to move forward from past mistakes with debt.               

It is important for a consumer who is monitoring their credit scores to check their progress as they build or rebuild credit, it’s also helpful to compare the same score over time for consistency.  You should also review your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, since the data in your credit reports are what your credit scores are based on.  You can get your credit reports for free once a year under federal law through

Monitoring your credit report is also a step in protecting against Identity Theft as any request for credit will result in a credit pull and this action will be reflected on your report.