If you’ve ever used a credit monitoring service, or even just looked at your credit scores side by side, you’ve probably wondered why you have different credit scores. If the consumer reporting agencies have the same information about you, shouldn’t you have the same score across the board? However, there are multiple credit score models.

In fact, while most people think they have just three credit scores, you may in fact have many. But why?

Accuracy and Timeliness of Information

Not all credit reporting bureaus get the same information at the same time. You might have missed a payment somewhere and it got reported to one credit bureau but not another yet.

Similarly, you might have paid down a large amount of debt, reducing your overall credit utilization, but not every credit bureau has received that information yet.

Finally, not all creditors report to all three major credit reporting bureaus. Not all credit reporting bureau will have all of your information all of the time.

Proprietary Scoring

When you look up what is considered in your different credit scores, you’ll find that there’s a general breakdown: Payment history, your credit utilization rate, and other factors like your credit mix and total accounts make up the rest. Things get even more complicated when you realize that different credit scores have their own calculations.

So, if you apply for credit from 10 different creditors, that’s potentially 10 different scores from 10 different algorithms.

Then there are scores that are used for different purposes, adding another layer of complexity. For example, there are credit scores for credit-based insurance scores and for predicting your bankruptcy risk, as well as different credit scores for mortgage approvals.

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 source to the next. Where the little differences can become big differences is for people who are on the line between one grade of credit and the next.

It helps to monitor your credit score to have a general idea of where you are in the credit ranges. You can find your credit score via a number of websites and services, including Discover’s Credit Scorecard. What’s more, you should keep an eye on your credit report itself to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date. Even if there are slight variations from one score to another, the beginning of building a good credit history is knowing what’s included on your report.

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.

Credit Scorecard is provided by Discover Bank, and includes a FICO® Credit Score and other credit information. Credit Scorecard information is based on data from Experian and may differ from credit scores and credit information provided by other credit bureaus. This information is provided to you at no cost and with your consent. You must be 18 years old and a U.S. resident or a resident of America Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. Your Credit Scorecard will be refreshed the later of every 30-days or the next time you log in to Credit Scorecard. Discover and other lenders may use different inputs, such as a FICO® Credit Score, other credit scores and more information in credit decisions. This product may change or end in the future. FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Discover credit monitoring and Social Security number alerts are offered by Discover Bank at no cost, only available online, and currently include the following services: (a) daily monitoring of your Experian® credit report and an alert when a new inquiry or account is listed on your report; (b) daily monitoring of thousands of Dark Web sites known for revealing personal information and an alert if your Social Security Number is found on such a website. This information is provided for free, as part of Discover’s Free Credit Scorecard membership to both existing and new members upon successful product registration. Alert services are based on Experian information and data which may differ from information and data at other credit bureaus. Monitoring your credit report does not impact your credit score. This benefit may change or end in the future. Discover Bank is not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. To see a list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit discover.com/free-credit-score.