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Your Credit Score: FICO versus Vantage

Updated: Jan 19

Just when you thought credit scores couldn't get any more confusing--

Tada, along came this blog post to clear it all up!

Quick caveat:

If you came here looking for what makes up our credit score, I'll save you a bit of time and redirect you to this post, "your credit score & what it's made of," which gives you all the juicy details.

If you came here to learn about various credit score models and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage, you're in the right place!

All right, drum roll, please...

A snare drum with two drumsticks tapping it

Why this is important

Your credit score plays a vital role in your ability to get a loan/mortgage, get utilities (including your cell phone), get approved for an apartment, and it even impacts your insurance rates. The decision-makers use this information to determine if we are worth the risk as a client.

How do they make that determination, you ask?

There are currently two major credit score models in operation today:



According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "FICO and VantageScore are two of the most commonly used credit scores. But they're not the only ones. Some lenders, for example, have their own custom credit-scoring models that they use to make credit decisions."

Most lenders don't advertise which model they use, so feel free to ask if it's FICO or VantageScore, especially if you're trying to increase your score to a specific number to qualify for a particular product.

a bar chart with each bar getting taller and an arrow pointing up

Credit scores can differ

It's important to note that your FICO Score and VantageScore can differ. Sometimes it's by a few points, and sometimes a lot more.

The reason is that businesses can choose which credit reporting agency they send your information to. The business has to pay to submit your data. For example: If you have a late AT&T payment, they may only partner with Experian.

Does checking your score hurt your credit?

Nope, checking your own score has no impact on your credit. It's considered a soft pull.

Credit Score Models

Some folks argue that the US was operating just fine before there was a formula to determine lending risk, and others think it's necessary. Either way, it's here to stay for the foreseeable future, so let's dive into some insights.

FICO History

FICO (formerly the Fair Isaac Corporation) developed the FICO® Score, which came on the scene in 1989. They were the first entity to partner with our national credit bureaus to spit out the most critical three-digit number in our personal finance arsenal. This concept completely transformed how lending institutions viewed lending.

If you think the paperwork we fill out today is terrible, it's nothing compared to the filing cabinet full of paperwork that was required before.

FICO Models

There are currently 20 versions of the FICO® Score available to lending institutions.

I get that models need to be updated, but I think having that many lingering around is absurd. How are we, the consumer, supposed to keep up with which version the lender is using?!

Here's a look at those 20 versions:

The two most commonly used

FICO® Score 9

FICO® Score 8

Auto lending

FICO® Auto Score 9

FICO® Auto Score 8

FICO® Auto Score 5

FICO® Auto Score 4

FICO® Auto Score 2

Credit Card approvals

FICO® Bankcard Score 9

FICO® Bankcard Score 8

FICO® Bankcard Score 5

FICO® Bankcard Score 4

FICO® Score 3

FICO® Bankcard Score 2


FICO® Score 5

FICO® Score 4

FICO® Score 2

Released in 2020

FICO® Score 10

FICO® Auto Score 10

FICO® Bankcard Score 10

FICO® Score 10T

As with most technology, the timing of when a lender upgrades to a new model is totally up to them. Maybe we can ask FICO to slowly kill the battery in some of the older models as Apple does to our iPhones (just an idea.)

an iphone with the low power mode icon popping on screen

Who uses the FICO Score?

Investopedia says more than 90% of lenders use the FICO score-- this means there is a good chance that the lender you used (or plan to use) will pull your credit information using one of the FICO models listed above.

Which brings me to... what do the other 10% of lenders do?

If you read the intro, you've probably already guessed it!

VantageScore History

The VantageScore assigns a three-digit score, just like FICO, but with a slightly different spin. They only work with ~10% of lenders, but they complete a hefty number of direct consumer requests (in the billions).

VantageScore Solutions LLC was created in 2006 and is owned by America's three Nationwide Credit Reporting Agencies: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian.

VantageScore Models

There are four.

VantageScore® 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0.

Models 1.0 & 2.0 created a score between 501-900. But when they released 3.0, they aligned with FICO and created scores based on the well known 300-850 range.

Interesting Fact

VantageScore 3.0 & 4.0 do not use medical debt in collections when determining your credit score.

Bottom Line

If you know which option (FICO or VantageScore) a financial institution, your new landlord, or the mortgage company will use, you can check your credit accurately and determine if you need to raise it before proceeding with a loan.

Here's to you,

Melissa Mittelstaedt

Money Coach | Accredited Financial Counselor®


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