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What is FICO® Score 8?

Last Updated: January 30, 2024
4 min read

Key Points About: What does FICO® Score 8 Mean?

  1. FICO® Score 8 is a base credit score that lenders may use to help make lending decisions.

  2. Your payment history, credit usage, length of credit history, the type of credit accounts you have, and how often you apply for credit all influence your FICO® Score 8.

  3. No matter which FICO® Score version your lender uses, you can positively impact your credit score by practicing good credit habits.

Your credit score is an important metric that lenders use to help determine your creditworthiness—that is, how likely you are to pay back your debt. But did you know that there are different scoring models available for lenders to use? One of the most popular scoring models used by top lenders today is the FICO® Credit Score—in fact, 90% of top lenders use FICO® Credit Scores.1

The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) created the credit scoring model to help lenders figure out if a person would be a good borrower. According to the FICO website, the FICO credit scoring model has different versions to address different business needs (industry-specific scores) and base credit scores that all lenders can use. FICO base credit scores typically range from 300 to 850 where the higher the score is the better. These three-digit numbers help give lenders an overview of your credit history, so lenders can determine whether to extend credit to you.

Did you know?

Good credit habits (like paying your bills on time and keeping your credit use low) can help you improve your credit in general, which may also help your FICO® Score 8. If you have low or no credit, you can build your credit history with the Discover it® Secured Credit Card.2

What Is FICO® Score 8?

Just like you would update your phone or laptop with new software, sometimes, FICO updates their scoring model to a newer version to help keep up with changes in consumer spending and credit habits as well as credit reporting practices. According to FICO, one of the most commonly used FICO® Score versions used by lenders is the FICO® Score 8.

FICO® Score 8 is a base credit score that credit providers use to help figure out a potential borrower’s credit risk. Your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, new credit inquiries, and the types of accounts you have (your credit mix), are all factors that come into play within FICO® Score 8.

What factors go into your FICO® Score 8?

The information that you have on your credit report and your credit habits can affect your FICO® Score 8, according to FICO’s website. For example, keeping your credit use low can help your FICO® Score 8, while too many late payments on your credit card bill can hurt your score. Key categories that go into determining your FICO® Score 8 include:

A history of on-time credit accounts may help your score, while a late payment could hurt it.

Your credit utilization ratio measures how much of your available credit that you’re using compared to your credit limit. In general, you want to keep your credit use low.

FICO looks at how long you’ve had your credit accounts and how long it’s been since you’ve used those accounts. Generally, lenders like to see that you have a long history of managing credit. But even if you’re thinking of building credit, you can build a credit history with a secured card.2

FICO® Score 8 looks at your mix of credit, which is the different types of credit accounts you have like credit cards, loans, and mortgages.

New credit inquiries (how often you’ve applied for credit) can also influence your FICO® Credit Score 8.

Why does my FICO® Score 8 Matter?

Your FICO® Score 8 is one of the most widely used FICO® Credit Scores, and since it is so widely used, there’s a good chance that your lender may use it. For example, if you’re trying to get a new credit card, personal loans, student loans and retail credit, your FICO® Score 8 may be important.

There are also industry-specific versions of credit scores that businesses use. According to FICO, the FICO® Bankcard Score 8 is a score version commonly used by credit card issuers when you apply for a new credit card. It’s very similar to the base FICO® Score 8 but gives special consideration to how you’ve managed credit card accounts.

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With no harm to your credit score 3

Even though the FICO® Score 8 model is so commonly used, there are other credit score versions that your lender may use. Whichever model your lender uses, the information that’s found on your credit report may play a factor in whether you get credit approval. So, in general, you want to practice responsible credit habits like making on-time credit card payments and keeping your credit utilization low.

How can I stay on top of my FICO® Score 8?

No matter which version of FICO® Credit Score your lender uses, practicing responsible credit management may help you better influence your credit score.

Regularly review your credit report.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can request your free credit report at Review each report closely and dispute any errors that you find with the credit bureau. Your credit rating may get a boost if the credit reporting agency removes the error .

Make on-time payments.

Late payments can hurt your credit score, so you should aim to pay your bills on time, every time. If you can manage it, you should also try to make more than one payment a month on your credit account so that you can keep your credit utilization low.

Don’t apply for too much credit.

If you apply for too much credit in a short period of time, you risk hurting your credit score, instead, limit the amount of new credit that you apply for at once.

Pay attention to credit utilization.

To get a good credit utilization rate, you should try to keep your credit balances reported to the credit bureaus as low as possible.

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  1. FICO® Credit Score Terms: Your FICO® Credit Score, key factors and other credit information are based on data from TransUnion® and may be different from other credit scores and other credit information provided by different bureaus. This information is intended for and only provided to Primary account holders who have an available score. See about the availability of your score. Your score, key factors and other credit information are available on and cardmembers are also provided a score on statements. Customers will see up to a year of recent scores online. Discover and other lenders may use different inputs, such as FICO® Credit Scores, other credit scores and more information in credit decisions. This benefit may change or end in the future. 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 law 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.
  2. Build/Rebuild Credit History (Secured Card): Discover reports your credit history to the three major credit bureaus so it can help build/rebuild your credit if used responsibly. Late payments, delinquencies or other derogatory activity with your credit card accounts and loans may adversely impact your ability to build/rebuild credit.
  3. There is no hard inquiry to your credit report to check if you’re pre-approved. If you’re pre-approved, and you move forward with submitting an application for the credit card, it will result in a hard inquiry which may impact your credit score. Receiving a pre-approval offer does not guarantee approval. Applicants applying without a social security number are not eligible to receive pre-approval offers. Card applicants cannot be pre-approved for the NHL Discover Card.

  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.