The Differences Between a VantageScore® and a FICO® Score®
Key points about: VantageScore® & FICO® credit scoring models
There are two main credit scoring models used in the U.S.: VantageScore® and FICO® Score®.1
Both credit scoring models use the same credit range of 300-850, but the meanings of the scores vary between companies.
The categories used to calculate credit scores and how they are weighed can differ between the two companies.
While your credit score is only three numbers, this trio of digits can pack a major punch when it comes to your finances. Your credit score is calculated using credit scoring models and is used by creditors to predict how likely you are to pay your bills on time. This information is then used to determine if you qualify for new credit, such as a mortgage, auto loan, or a new credit card.
Differences between FICO® and VantageScore® ranges
There are two main credit scoring models used in the U.S.: VantageScore® and FICO® Score (which stands for Fair Isaac Corporation). FICO and VantageScore® are the two largest credit scoring models in the U.S. Both companies have the same purpose: to help lenders evaluate applicants to predict the likelihood that they will pay their bills. Also, both companies create credit scores, however, the models they use to calculate them differ.
While each model now uses the same credit range of 300-850, (the first two versions of the VantageScore® model used a 501-990 range), the meaning of a person’s score can vary between companies.
For instance, what qualifies as a “good” credit score in FICO® Score is 670-739. Using VantageScore® 4.0, you need to score between 700-749 to get a “good” rating, according to Experian. This is because each credit scoring model applies varying levels of importance to different measures on your credit report.
FICO® Credit Score ranges
There are five tiers of the FICO® Score range.
- Exceptional: 800-850
- Very Good: 740-799
- Good: 670-739
- Fair: 580-669
- Poor: 300-579
VantageScore credit score ranges
There are also five tiers of the VantageScore® range, according to Experian, but the designations and the numbers for each level differ compared to FICO®.
- Excellent: 750-850
- Good: 700-749
- Fair: 650-699
- Poor: 550-649
- Very Poor: 300-549
Different factors that affect your credit score
If you’ve ever seen both of your scores and questioned, “Why is my VantageScore® lower than my FICO® Score?” or vice versa, it’s because there are differences in how categories and information are weighed within the scoring models. This can result in slightly different scores. So, if you have a FICO® Score® of 600, it doesn’t mean you’ll have a 600 VantageScore® too.
For instance, the two models differ based on how they score the length of credit history. Before you can have a FICO® Score®, you must have one or more credit accounts open for six months. FICO® Scores also require these accounts to be reported to the three national credit bureaus within a six-month period, according to FICO. VantageScore® only requires one or more credit accounts to be open for at least one month, according to Experian, and the reporting of one account within the past two years.
This means those who are new to credit may not have a credit score with FICO® and are more likely to have one with VantageScore®.
Why credit scores from the three credit bureaus may differ
Lenders don’t always share the same consumer information with the main credit reporting agencies. They might also provide this information at different times. This means you can get two different credit scores if you request your credit report from two bureaus at the same time.
How the factors used to calculate credit scores differ
The categories that make up a FICO® Score® and a VantageScore® are also different, as well as how credit information is weighed within each.
The five categories that contribute to a FICO® Score®, include:
- Payment History: 35%. This is a record of whether you pay your credit accounts on time.
- Amounted Owed: 30%. This looks at how much of your available credit you are using.
- Length of Credit History: 15%. As a rule of thumb, the longer your credit history, the better.
- New Credit: 10%. Applying for several credit accounts in a short period of time can make you appear risky to lenders.
- Credit Mix: 10%. Having different types of credit, such as a credit card and a mortgage, can help demonstrate good credit management.
According to VantageScore®, the six categories that make up a VantageScore®, include:
- Payment History: 41%. A measure of your repayment behavior. Have you paid on time or missed payments?
- Age and Mix of Credit: 20%. Age and type of credit you have.
- Credit Utilization: 20%. How much of your available credit is in use.
- New Credit: 11%. Recently opened credit accounts and credit inquiries.
- Balance: 6%. The total amount of recently reported balances.
- Available Credit: 2%. Amount of credit you have available.
How to get your credit score
To check your credit score, you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com for a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus–Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
Did you know?
Discover cardmembers can access their FICO® Credit Score for free anytime. 90% of top lenders use FICO® Credit Scores, including Discover2 Because FICO® Scores are more widely used by lenders, that means your FICO® Score may be more important to you if you’re trying to access new credit.
Your credit score is an important number used by creditors to determine if they can trust you as a borrower. Your specific credit score can vary between scoring models. Rather than worry about how your scores might differ, try to focus on the big picture. Paying your bills on time, maintaining a low credit utilization, and only applying for credit when you need it can help across both scoring models.
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