Your credit score is a three-digit number that helps lending institutions assess their risk associated with lending you money. They are used for loans, credit cards, renting, insurance and background checks on employment.
People with lower credit scores may pay higher interest rates or may not be approved at all. Those with higher, less-risky credit scores often qualify for lower interest rates and special options. Credit scores are calculated based on computer “predictability” models that analyze credit information and patters from your credit report against those of other consumers.
There are trillions of score combinations used in the calculations. Most scores are calculated and provided individually by each credit bureau, including the three major ones in the United States, which are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Additionally, many lenders use third-party credit scoring systems, such as FICO, NextGen, CE Score and VantageScore. For consumers, the variations in scoring models and score ranges can create some confusion.
In 2006, the three major bureaus joined forces to create a single credit scoring system called the VantageScore. The VantageScore and FICO model lead the industry as competitive rivals in credit-scoring systems.
Your VantageScore may not be exactly the same if your lender only orders a credit report from one of the bureaus. This is because the data each bureau receives may be slightly different. If your lender does not report your payment history to Equifax but does report to Experian and TransUnion, it will create a difference in scores. The VantageScore should be more consistent across all three bureaus since the mathematical formula is the same.
Unlike FICOs traditional 300-850 credit score range, the VantageScore ranges from 501-990. There is no way to compare the results of the VantageScore to a FICO score especially when the formulas are constantly changing. However, to put some perspective in place a 650 FICO score approximately compares to a low, 800-range VantageScore.
The one constant for both scoring systems is that paying your debts on time will typically be the primary factor that positively impacts your credit score.