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Why Do I Have Different Credit Scores?

Last Updated: February 16, 2024
4 min read

Key points about: most accurate credit score

  1. It’s normal to see slight differences in your credit score when you review credit reports from different credit bureaus.

  2. Your credit score may be different because creditors don’t always report to all three major credit bureaus.

  3. The type of credit scoring model used to calculate your score could also lead to a different score.

If you’re looking for a new credit card, you may want to first check your credit report to see how a new card could impact your credit score. But you may notice that your credit score can vary on credit reports from different credit agencies. Is there an error? Is one more accurate than the other credit scores?
Don’t worry. It’s normal to have differences in your credit score when you review credit reports from different credit bureau sites. Below, we’ll examine some reasons why your credit score may be different.

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Why your credit scores can be different but still accurate

Creditors don’t always report to all three major credit bureaus. In addition, they may not always share the same consumer information with the credit bureaus at the same time, either.

For example, you may have missed a payment at some point, and it was reported to one bureau, but not the other two. Or maybe you recently paid down a large debt and reduced your overall credit utilization, but only one or two of the major credit bureaus have received that information from your creditor.

So, the credit reporting agencies may not have the same information all of the time, which can cause differences in your credit score from different sites but still be accurate.

Different credit scoring models

Your credit score is based on various factors in your financial history. Typically, your payment history (how often you make on-time payments and if you’ve missed any payments) is the biggest factor in your credit score. But there are other factors that impact your credit score, and their importance is based on the credit scoring model used.

For example, FICO (which stands for Fair Isaac Corporation) counts payment history at 35% of your score, total amount of debt at 30%, length of credit history at 15%, credit mix at 10%, and new credit at 10%.1 However, another credit scoring model, VantageScore, has a different breakdown: payment history at 41%, age and mix of credit at 20%, credit utilization at 20%, new credit at 11%, your balance at 6%, and available credit at 2%.

Depending on which credit scoring model is used, your FICO® Credit Score is likely to vary from a credit score calculated using the VantageScore credit score model.

In addition, both FICO and VantageScore each have a wide range of proprietary models that are used to assess creditworthiness for different types of loans.

With all of these nuances possible, it may be easier to understand why you might have different credit scores on different sites.

Did you know?

A new line of credit from a credit card issuer could impact your credit file. A hard inquiry results from a credit card application, which could negatively impact your credit. However, a new credit card may improve your credit utilization, credit mix, and obtaining new credit.

What different credit scores mean for your credit

For the most part, if the credit bureau or creditor in question has up-to-date and accurate information, you should have similar credit scores from one credit report to the next. Where little differences can become big differences is for people who are near the lines between one credit score range versus a higher one.

For example, FICO considers a fair credit score to be 580-669, while a good credit score is 670-739. If your credit score is 665 and puts you in the fair range, that may influence whether you can be approved for new credit, as well as the amount and the interest rate.

It’s recommended to keep a close eye on your credit report to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date. You can do this by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You’re able to get a free credit report from each major credit bureau–Equifax, Experian®, and TransUnion–once a week through a special program enacted during the pandemic, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

If you find your credit scores are different on different sites, they may all be accurate. The credit bureau and scoring model used, and what information and when the lender (such as your credit card issuer) shares it with each credit reporting company, all factor into your scores. What may be more important is if one of your credit reports contains an error and working to fix it. Even if there are slight variations from one credit score to another, the beginning of building a good credit history is knowing what’s included on your report.

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  1. FICO® Credit Score Terms: FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

    Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac are not credit repair organizations as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac do not provide “credit repair” services or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history or credit rating.


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