There are more than 3 types of credit scores you need to know, especially if you’re applying for a mortgage, credit card, or auto loan. In fact, you have over 35 different credit scores, including at least 16 versions of the FICO® Score, the most widely used credit scoring model.
While FICO scores are the most important, there are many more credit score types you should be aware of.
In this post, I’ll give you a quick summary of every type of credit score, tell you which scores are important, and tell you how to check them.
35 Credit Scoring Models and Their Credit Score Ranges
Some of the most commonly cited resources online today are hopelessly outdated, referencing credit scores that are obsolete or have been re-branded. You will find the following to be the most accurate and up-to-date list of credit score types anywhere.
FICO General Scores
FICO offers scores for general use as well as industry-specific scores such as auto scores. Their general scores are as follows.
Introduced in 2009, FICO 8 is the most widely used credit score in America. All three credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, have adopted the score and it is commonly pulled by auto lenders and credit card companies instead of (or on top of) industry-specific FICO scores. FICO 8 is also one of the only FICO scores you can find for free using services such as Discover Scorecard.
300 – 850
Free or Paid
The FICO 8 score range is from 300 to 850 with most credit scores falling between 600 and 750. A credit score of 670 or better is considered good.
Mortgage lenders almost exclusively use FICO 2, FICO 4, and FICO 5. Learn more in the next section on Industry-Specific FICO Scores.
FICO (originally Fair Isaac) created the first FICO score in 1989, and since then has come out with a new scoring model every few years.
The most commonly used score is FICO 8, while the most recent score created in 2014 was FICO 9.
The idea is to continually innovate and improve the predictability of risk. For example, FICO’s earlier models don’t distinguish between an unpaid credit card payment and an unpaid medical bill. But if you think about it, they should not be on the same playing field. You have to actively take on credit card debt, whereas medical debt can be thrust upon you. Failure to repay these debts should not impact your credit score in the same way. FICO 9.0 has aimed to correct this.
Having said this, lenders can use whatever scoring model they want provided that FICO still sells it, and not all lenders have embraced FICO 9.
300 – 850
Free or Paid
Wells Fargo and Navy Federal Credit Union offer a free FICO 9 score, but you must be a client and they only show your score from one credit bureau. For all 3 FICO 9 Scores, you will need to sign up for MyFICO.
Prior to UltraFICO, FICO released FICO 9 (along with industry-specific versions: FICO Auto Score 9 and FICO Bankcard Score 9). FICO 9 has many similarities to FICO 8. For example, you have an Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax score for both FICO 8 and 9. One of the key differences is FICO 9 counts medical collections less harshly than FICO 8. So if you break your leg and don’t pay your medical bill, that will have less of an impact on your FICO 9 score than if you buy a $5,000 watch on your VISA credit card and don’t pay VISA back.
Industry-Specific FICO Scores
FICO has also developed scoring models tailored for particular industries, such as the auto, credit card, or mortgage industries.
FICO Auto Scores
The FICO Auto Score is an industry-specific score that places more emphasis and weight on auto-related credit history. Auto lenders often prefer these “auto-enhanced” scores as they don’t just show an applicant’s general credit history, but a history weighted toward payments on auto loans, lease payments, etc. There have been many versions of the FICO Auto Score, but the most recent was released in 2016.
All 3 credit reporting companies have adopted a FICO Auto Score 8 & 9. Each CRC also has a score of its own, Experian’s FICO Auto Score 2, TransUnion’s FICO Auto Score 4, and Equifax’s FICO Auto Score 5.
Unfortunately, free credit score sites like Credit Karma do not provide your FICO Scores. Even the ones that do provide a FICO Score do not provide your Auto Scores. Currently, the only way to get these scores is by signing up for MyFICO. The $29.95 per month plan will show your scores from all 3 credit reporting companies.
You can get a car loan with almost any credit score, but you want to aim for a score of at least over 680 to get a decent interest rate. At the end of September 2020, the average credit score for a new-car loan was 721, and 657 for a used-car loan, according to an Experian report. Source: Nerdwallet.com
There is no minimum. You can get a car loan with deep subprime credit scores as low as 350 to 499. Of course, it will be at ridiculously high interest rates.
FICO Bankcard Scores
The FICO Bankcard Score is an industry-specific score that places more emphasis and weight on credit card and personal lending history. Credit card companies and other lenders often prefer these “bank-enhanced” scores as they show a history weighted toward payments on credit cards rather than other types of debt.
Unfortunately, free credit score sites like Credit Karma do not provide your FICO Scores. Even the ones that do provide a FICO Score do not provide your Bankcard Scores. Currently, the only way to get these scores is by signing up for MyFICO. The $29.95 per month plan will show your scores from all 3 credit reporting companies.
You can be approved for many secured credit cards, such as Open Sky, without any credit check, as well as several others with very low credit scores. However, you’ll need your FICO Bankcard 8 Score to be at least 580 or more (Fair range) to qualify for traditional credit cards.
Credco / FACredco (CoreLogic)
This is not a FICO Score but needs to be mentioned in this section.
Credco is the largest seller of the “Tri-Merge” report (also known as the Residential Mortgage Credit Report or RMCR), a merging of data from Equifax, Transunion, and Experian which Credco sells to mortgage lenders. While they offer multiple credit solutions, Credco’s flagship report is the Instant Merge. Click here for a full sample report. Here’s an example of the first page:
According to Credco, it is “the mortgage industry’s most widely used and accepted 3-bureau merged credit report. It is utilized by 19 of the top 20 mortgage lenders and is integrated on over 60 Loan Origination Systems.”
You can request a copy of your Credco report by mailing a copy of the request form here.
You *can’t request your score, but you can get a good idea of what’s in your report by signing up for MyFICO and looking up your FICO 2, FICO 4, and FICO 5 scores and 3 Bureau report.
Equifax FICO Score 5
This is one of the three FICO Scores almost exclusively used by mortgage lenders for underwriting. The other two are FICO 2 and FICO 4. Originally branded under the name Beacon 5.0, it has also been called FICO Classic v5 from Equifax (aka FICO 5 Score). It has also been known as the Beacon 5 Score or EQ-04. This model was implemented in 2003 and built using data from 1998 to 2000. Today it is mostly only used by mortgage underwriters.
*300 – 850
MyFICO is the ONLY place you can check your FICO 5 Score
*According to multiple sources here and here, FICO regularly shares with the public that the credit score range for its classic scores, 2, 4, and 5 is 300 to 850. However, the little-known real-world score range for FICO 5 is 334-818.
Both scores are similar although FICO 5 is much older. FICO 8 (or version 8) was created in 2009 and according to FICO, is the most widely used FICO score. That’s because a lot of credit card companies use it for acquisition/approval decisions, as well as to monitor their existing card holders’ scores. It’s also popular in the auto lending space. FICO 5, also known as Equifax Beacon 5.0, was created in 1989 and is most commonly known as one of the go-to scores for mortgage providers. But most people don’t know Equifax created other versions of the Beacon 5.0 score such as an Auto score and Bankcard score. These versions of FICO 5 are popular with auto lenders and credit card companies respectively.
Experian FICO Score 2
While this has been known by many names over the years and used for different purposes, today Experian FICO Score 2 is almost exclusively used in mortgage underwriting, along with two other scores, FICO 4 and FICO 5. A few other names it has been known by are the Experian FICO Risk Model v2, EX-98 (since the score was first introduced in 1998), and Risk Model v2.
*300 – 850
MyFICO is the ONLY place you can check your FICO 2 Score
*According to multiple sources here and here, FICO regularly shares with the public that the credit score range for its classic scores, 2, 4, and 5 is 300 to 850. However, the little-known real-world score range for FICO 2 is 320-844.
First of all, FICO 2 is much older. FICO 8 was created in 2009 and according to FICO, is the most widely used FICO score. FICO 8 is used by credit card companies and auto lenders. FICO 2, also known as Experian FICO Risk Model v2, was first introduced in 1998 and is most commonly known as one of the go-to scores for mortgage providers.
Factual Data (CBC Innovis) Score
Again, this is not a FICO Score, but is an important re-seller of credit bureau data. Factual Data sells the “tri-merge” report from Equifax, Transunion, and Experian to mortgage lenders. You can’t request your score, but you can get a good idea of your score by signing up for MyFICO and looking up your FICO 2, FICO 4, and FICO 5 scores.
TransUnion FICO Score 4
FICO 4 is one of the three primary scores mortgage lenders use in underwriting. The other two are FICO 2 and FICO 5. Also known as the TransUnion FICO Risk Score Classic 04 (FICO has since dropped the 0 in 04, but it was first included since the score was introduced in 2004). It’s commonly seen on credit reports as TU-04 or TUC.
*300 – 850
MyFICO is the ONLY place you can check your FICO 4 Score
*According to multiple sources here and here, FICO regularly shares with the public that the credit score range for its classic scores, 2, 4, and 5 is 300 to 850. However, the little-known real-world score range for FICO 4 is 336-843.
There are many similarities between FICO Risk Score Classic 04 and FICO 8. Both are based on the 5 key credit score factors. Besides what we have stated above for FICO 2 and 5 (that FICO 4 is primarily used for mortgage underwriting while FICO 8 is popularly used in many lending decisions), one of the biggest differences between FICO 4 and 8 is that FICO 4 does not penalize you for Authorized User (AU) accounts. While nothing has been stated so by FICO, there are multiple consumer reports that indicate FICO 8 does not recognize their authorized user account history, only the balances, which would actually hurt your score.
🤔 How do you check your FICO Mortgage Scores? Currently, the only way to get these scores is by signing up for MyFICO. The $29.95 per month plan will show your scores from all 3 credit reporting companies.
NEWEST FICO® Scores
FICO comes out with a new scoring model every few years. Here are their newest scoring models.
FICO Score 10 and 10 T
FICO recently released the coming launch of FICO 10 and 10 T claiming FICO 10 will outperform all other FICO Scores. One difference is it will weigh each consumer’s total debt load and payment habits more heavily when calculating their credit score. The goal is for the score to better predict a consumer’s ability to repay a loan. We will update this section as we learn more about FICO 10.
UltraFICO is a tool FICO has developed that allows you to link your banking activity to positively affect your FICO score. If you’ve seen commercials on Experian BOOST™, it’s a similar idea except with Experian Boost, they measure payments to utilities companies, whereas UltraFICO will potentially give you credit for length of time your accounts have been opened and evidence of consistent cash on hand.
According to FICO, 7 out of 10 people in the U.S. who have had consistent cash on hand and kept positive balances could see an UltraFICO score that is higher than their traditional FICO score.
You can opt-in for free by clicking here.
Alternative Credit Scores
When borrowers have thin credit files, many lenders rely on alternative credit data not found in traditional credit reports (such as rent & utility payments) to make underwriting decisions, called alternative data.
ChexSystems Consumer Score
ChexSystems provides financial institutions with verification services. They collect and report data on checking account applications, openings, and closures. While this is mostly used by banks and credit unions to help them decide if they’ll approve you for a new account, some lenders may also use this information to gain more insight into prospective borrowers’ banking history. Scores range from 100 to 899, with higher scores indicating lower risk.
100 – 899
You can request your score here.
Clear Early Risk Score by Experian
Also known as the “Clarity Services Score,” it is an alternate credit scoring model lenders may request to predict risk of default. For example, this model collects information from credit transactions that aren’t included in traditional credit with the goal of providing information about sub-prime borrowers (or borrowers with no traditional credit score) to companies selling to this market such as payday lenders and check cashing services.
Since Clarity Services has access to 62 million consumers (they’re the largest alternative finance specialty bureau in the US), Experian first sourced their data from Clarity Services, and then acquired them in Oct 2017.
To request your score, click here to complete their request form.
Credit Optics Score
Created in 2008 by ID Analytics, Credit Optics® (also known as Credit Optics Full Spectrum) is another alternative data score whose goal is to identify applicants who have traditionally been underestimated by the other national credit reporting agencies (the big three). It provides both traditional and alternative data and is an FCRA compliant credit score.
This is a TransUnion score offered to lenders that focuses on helping make auto loan underwriting decisions. They claim to be the only scores in the market to combine trended data (for example, a credit card user’s last 30 months of balances and credit balance) and alternative credit data, such as payment history and small dollar lending. They primarily target subprime credit card companies and auto lenders. Credit card companies are using the score to make acquisition/new account decisions as well as to predict closures or attrition of accounts.
Because the score focuses on data that isn’t traditionally found in the most popular credit scores from the big three credit bureaus, CreditVision Scores are able to score up to 60 million more people than traditional models. They are also proven to accurately score more than 90% of applicants with thin files or no traditional credit scores. TransUnion sells different versions of the score such as the CreditVision Link Score, CreditVision Bankruptcy Score, CreditVision Auto Score, and CreditVision Income Estimator.
FactorTrust Score by TransUnion
TransUnion acquired FactorTrust, Inc in Nov 2017 as a provider of alternative credit data and analytics. As with all alternative data providers, the goal is for TransUnion to be able to provide a wider range of payment behaviors to lenders.
In the case of FactorTrust, they focus on collecting information about short-term and small dollar lending data. While they don’t offer a “score,” per se, FactorTrust is a consumer reporting agency (CRA) that provides reports to third parties (typically lenders) to assess your credit risk. While some reports indicate that FactorTrust was intended mostly in auto lending decisions, some forums have reported seeing FactorTrust pull for Synchrony credit card decisions as well (such as Lowe’s).
FICO Expansion Score
Another alternative data report created in partnership with PRBC (Pay Rent, Build Credit – see below). It is typically able to score 70-100% of people with no traditional credit score, since it pulls data from sources such as utilities, memberships, property and asset information, and debit data.
JSS Credit Score
Offered by Scorelogix, a pioneer in job risk scoring, the JSS Credit Score (or Job Security Score) is a non-traditional credit score that uses risk factors such as the borrower’s job stability, income, and income sufficiency in judging a potential borrower’s credit risk. According to “Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age,” the JSS was the industry’s first income-risk based credit score. While widely referenced online, we have found no mentions of this score in any current marketing collateral from Scorelogix. This score may have been rebranded as the “Ability to Pay Score” (or ATP Score), which also focuses on consumers’ income stress and payment defaults. Many lenders use the JSS credit score (or ATP Score) in conjunction with traditional credit scores.
For more information, click here
Link2Credit First Score Direct
Owned by TransUnion, L2C, Inc offers another non-traditional scoring model, sometimes called the L2C Credit Score, that aims to predict the future paying ability of the borrower compared to their past ability to pay. Since it uses data such as phone and utility payments, debit and checking account activity, and other public records, it’s able to score 80-90% of people who have no FICO Score.
Pay Rent Build Credit (PRBC) Score
PRBC, owned by Microbilt, has developed a score to supplement data pulled by lenders from the big 3 (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax). It provides a score based on alternate data such as (as its name implies) rental payments. It does not report to the big 3 or affects FICO. It’s an independent score borrowers can try to get lenders to look at to prove their creditworthiness.
Created by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, RiskView is probably the largest alternative scoring model as it can score up to 90% of people in a lender’s applicant pool who have no traditional credit score.
In fact, it is so comprehensive that it includes data from over 300 sources including public records and multiple other non-tradeline data sources proprietary to LexisNexis. Some data that goes into their scoring model is:
- predicted income
- education attributes
- address stability
- voter registration
- property value
- and online purchase activity
In other words, their score is derived from data not available or not used in traditional scoring models at the big three bureaus. According to LexisNexis, using data in the RiskView score, they are able to effectively evaluate the creditworthiness of over 40 million consumers with little or no credit history.
The score range is from 501 to 900. Additionally, some of the scoring results vary as they target different industries. For example, RiskView has an auto lending score, bank credit card score, demand deposit account (DDA) score, short-term lending score, retail credit card score, and telecommunications and utility score.
Proprietary Credit Scores From Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion
Besides providing data to FICO, the big three credit bureaus also have their own proprietary scores, the most famous of which is the VantageScore.
Equifax Core Credit™ Score
This is a VantageScore provided by Equifax which you can get for free by clicking here. You’ll need to create a myEquifax account to get the score. As a VantageScore 3.0, it has a credit score range of 300 to 850.
Equifax Credit Score™
Not to be confused with any of your FICO Equifax scores, Equifax has also developed its own proprietary score whose range is from 280 to 850. While the scoring system and its purpose (to assign higher scores to lower risk borrowers) is similar to FICO’s, it is calculated using Equifax’s own model. This score is not commonly used by lenders.
280 – 850
This new credit score was just recently announced in November 2019 in the Wall Street Journal. Little is known about the score so far, except that it will combine Experian’s traditional consumer data with information they collect from short-term lenders (like payday loans) and give the consumer a “lift” or boost if they hold certain professional licenses such as a hairdresser or real estate license or any of 5,000 other licenses. We will update this entry as more information comes out.
TransUnion New Account Score
Formerly known as the TransRisk Score (and later TransRisk 2.0 Score), TransUnion created this score in January 2000 for institutions to better manage their existing accounts. While the TransRisk Score offered a score range from 100 to 900, the New Account Score offers a score range of 300 to 850 (higher scores equal lower risk) and predicts the likelihood of an existing account holder becoming 90 days delinquent in a 24 month period. This knowledge allows account managers to make important account decisions and identify their most profitable clients.
280 – 850
VantageScore Credit Score
The VantageScore was created by the three big credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian as a rival to the FICO score. The first two versions of the VantageScore ranged from 501 to 990, but the latest VantageScore 3.0 and 4.0 use the same 300 – 850 range as base FICO® scores. VantageScores are often offered for free by credit score providers like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. See more in our section on VantageScores above.
300 – 850
FICO 8 vs VantageScore
Both are scoring models or algorithms that take credit report data from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion and generate a credit score from the data. FICO 8 is much more widely used. In fact, it’s the most commonly used credit score by lenders today. VantageScore is used for educational purposes but is also gaining steam as a legitimate contender to FICO. Read our full comparison of VantageScore and FICO 8 for more information.
Obsolete Credit Scores
The following models are either no longer in use or have been re-branded and no longer known by the name below.
Capital One Credit Tracker
Credit Tracker was launched in 2014. It was replaced by the credit score tool, CreditWise.
Equifax RISK Score
Another proprietary scoring model developed by Equifax. They market it to lenders not as an underwriting score, but as a portfolio management score as “an enhanced risk model designed to help predict the likelihood of a consumer becoming 90+ days delinquent within 24 months.” It has not been available to the public since 2018. If you go directly to Equifax to purchase a credit score, you’ll get a FICO 8 score.
Equifax Score Power
This score used to be an Equifax FICO 04 model but is no longer in use. It was also known simply as “Score Power.” The only FICO 4 Score offered today is by TransUnion and is most commonly used in mortgage underwriting.
Experian PLUS Score
Experian used to offer its own proprietary credit score, which ranged from 330 to 830 separate from the FICO score or VantageScore but stopped selling this in 2018. Now, if you go directly to Experian to purchase a credit score, you’ll get a FICO score.
FICO NextGen Score
In 2001, FICO released this score with the intent that credit card companies would adopt it in their underwriting decisions. It was branded by each credit bureau under the names: Experian/FICO Advanced Risk Score 1.0 (later 2.0), FICO Risk Score NextGen (formerly known as Precision), as branded by TransUnion, and the Pinnacle 1.0 (later 2.0), as branded by Equifax.
Despite spending a lot of time and money on the new score, lenders were hesitant to use it. It is now almost universally unused. FICO doesn’t even show you this score as one of their 28 scores provided on MyFICO.com.
Where to Get Your Credit Scores (Free & Paid)
By now, you know you can easily get free VantageScores at many sites like Credit Sesame, but these are only educational scores and often differ greatly from your FICO Scores, the scores actually used by most lenders.
The good news?
FICO works with more than 130 financial institutions to provide free access to FICO® scores for more than 250 million consumer accounts, and we’re about to show you some of them!
Credit Karma has some information on institutions that provide your FICO score for free.
|Service||Score/s Provided||Cost||Quick Link|
|MyFICO||ALL FICO Scores||$29.95/mo|
Includes Credit & Identity Monitoring
|US Bank CreditView||TransUnion||Account Required||Get Scores|
|CapitalOne CreditWise||TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||Account Required||Get Scores|
|Discover Score Card||Experian FICO 8 Score||Just Sign Up, No Account Required||Get Scores|
|Credit Karma||Equifax and TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||Free||Get Scores|
|Chase Credit Journey||TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||Just Sign Up, No Account Required||Get Scores|
|Credit Sesame||TransUnion VantageScore 3.0||Free, Includes Free Credit Monitoring||Get Scores|
👆 The only free FICO Scores you will find online are your FICO 8 or 9 scores.
The only way to get your other FICO Scores (the ones lenders use specifically for the mortgage, auto, and credit card decisions) is to purchase them from MyFICO for $29.95 per month. There’s no long-term contract, so if you need to know your scores, you can grab them once and then cancel.
Credit Score Providers
The following do not create scores based on their own models. Instead, they provide free or paid credit scores to consumers.
This service costs $29.95/month and allows you to access all 28 FICO scores (Auto, Mortgage, Bankcard, and Classic Scores). This is the only way to check your FICO 2, 4, & 5 mortgage scores. The FICO 8 scores update in real-time. All the other scores update quarterly.
Credit Karma offers free VantageScores from Equifax and TransUnion. They also offer free tips to improve your credit. But beware, they require your DOB and last four of your SSN to get started. They use the data to sell you consumer products like credit cards and consolidation loans.
You can sign up for Credit Karma here.
Credit Sesame offers a free educational score, the TransUnion VantageScore 3.0. This score won’t be the same as your FICO Score (you could see a 50 to 100 point difference higher or lower), but it will at least give you an idea of how you’re doing creditwise.
One of the nice things about Credit Sesame is they offer a “Report Card” of sorts called your Score Analysis. This offers suggestions and recommended products you can take advantage of based on your current credit. For example, when I got my score above in July 2019, you can see I scored a “D” in the Credit Age category for which they recommended a featured offer to build up my poor age of credit history.
Read our full Credit Sesame review
Credit Check Total (CCT)
Credit Check Total doesn’t have its own score. It is a FICO score reseller. They give you access to all three FICO 8 scores for $29.95/mo and offer a 7-day trial for $1. Just keep in mind if you are applying for a home or auto loan, most lenders will not look at your FICO 8 scores. To get those, you’ll need to sign up for MyFICO.
You can sign up for Credit Check Total here.
This is the free credit score offered by Chase. They offer a TransUnion VantageScore 3.0, and you do not have to be a Chase Bank customer to sign up. They also offer credit alerts and a score simulator. For the pros & cons of signing up, please see our review of Chase Credit Journey.
Offered free through Capital One, they also offer a TransUnion VantageScore 3.0. CreditWise also offers free credit monitoring. They track your SSN, scan the dark web, and send automatic alerts from Experian and TransUnion. They also offer suggestions for improving your score ranked by most to least impactful.
Offers a free TransUnion Credit Score and $1 Credit Report as part of a 7-day trial of their subscription-based credit monitoring service.
The most popular credit scoring site to offer credit scores to businesses.