Summary: 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, and their credit score ranges vary a lot. Get a simple explanation of every different type of credit score and see what their ranges are.
The world of credit scores can get really confusing.
Especially when you learn you have “three different scores” and none of them seem to match the free scores you get from sites like Credit Karma.
We’ve been there. And we can help.
Here’s a list of the most important scores you should know and monitor by FICO, along with their credit score ranges. They are the credit scores most lenders use.
FICO® Score Types: FICO Is the Score Used by 90% of Lenders
To learn more, click the “more info” options below each score[su_divider top=”no” style=”default” divider_color=”#333333″ size=”3″ margin=”20″]
🌐 Most Widely Used Version: FICO 8
Score Range: 300 – 850
🏠 Used in Mortgage Lending: Beacon 5.0 from Equifax, FICO-II from Experian, and FICO Classic 04 from TransUnion
Score Range: 300 – 850
🚗 Used in Auto Lending: FICO Auto Score 2, 4, 5, 8
Score Range: 250 – 900
💳 Used in Credit Card Decisions: FICO Bankcard Score 2, 3, 4, 5, 8
Score Range (2, 4, 5, 8): 250 – 900
Score Range (3): 300 – 850
📰 Newest Versions: FICO 9, 10, 10 T
Score Range: 300 – 850
Key: All scores above that contain a 5 are exclusive to Equifax. Scores with a 2 are exclusively from Experian. Scores with a 4 are exclusively from Transunion.
Please note: Many people have three separate scores for FICO 8, 9, 10, 10 T, along with FICO Bankcard Score 8 and FICO Auto Score 8. FICO derives one score from each of the big three credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. FICO Bankcard Score 3 is exclusive to Experian.
Click here to learn more about FICO Scores.
While FICO is the most important, we’ve got many more score types to cover.
If you’ve asked:
- What’s the difference between Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax?
- Why do I have 3 scores? (Are there more?)
- Why is my FICO Score important?
- What score do I check if I’m applying for a home or auto loan?
- And what the heck is this VantageScore?
You’re in the perfect place!
In this post, I’ll give you a quick summary of every type of credit score, tell you which scores are important, and how to check them.
What Is a FICO® Score? (HINT: It’s the “Cadillac” of Credit Scores)
When it comes to credit scores, the most important score you need to know, monitor, and try to improve is your FICO score.
When applying for a home, auto, or personal loan, FICO is the score 90% of lenders pull to help them make a lending decision. So if you’re getting ready to apply for a loan and want to check your score, you’ll likely want to check your FICO score.
But beware of two things…
- Most “free credit scores” you’ll find online (like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame) don’t provide your FICO score. They provide something called your “VantageScore.” (We cover this in more detail below).
- FICO offers 28 different scores and they sometimes differ greatly, so if you’re getting ready to apply for a loan, how do you know which one to check?
In this section, we’ll help you determine which FICO score to check and where you can get it. A good FICO credit score typically ranges between 670 to 739, but again, your score will vary by the FICO model.
But first, let me explain what FICO does so even your 6-year-old baby brother or nephew could understand.
FICO Score Meaning (In Plain English)
Your FICO Score is a 3-digit number that estimates your risk as a borrower based on factors like your payment history, age of credit accounts, and mix of credit. Lenders buy these scores from FICO to help them make decisions about whether or not to approve you for credit, among other purposes. FICO offers many score types (called models). The most commonly used models have a range of 300 to 850.
Now, in Plain English:
Let’s take a food metaphor.
FICO is like a chef.
You’ve probably heard of the big three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Their job is to collect information about your credit history.
The info they have is like the ingredients.
Now, when you go into a restaurant and order an omelet, you don’t expect the server to come back and drop 3 raw eggs, a bowl, and some cheese in your lap.
You expect the chef to prepare the ingredients so you can easily consume them.
And that’s what FICO does for lenders!
Without FICO, lenders could still get your credit reports, scour through them, and determine if you’re a good risk, but it’s a lot easier if someone else (the chef/FICO) does it!
Simply put, FICO’s job is to take your credit ingredients (your mix of credit, payment history, age of credit accounts, etc) and serve the results to lenders in an easy-to-digest, 3-digit credit score.
With 27 million FICO Scores purchased every day, you could say lenders “eat them up.”
A lender could order your credit reports from the bureaus and search the results with a fine-toothed comb, but a simple, 3-digit score is a quick way for them to classify your risk category with little work. So every day, thousands of lenders use FICO to more accurately determine your credit risk.
How Is the FICO Score Calculated?
Here are the 5 main components (ingredients) FICO uses to create your credit score.
As you can see, your FICO score is limited in the picture it paints about your creditworthiness.
It does NOT include your:
- Address Stability
- Bank Account Balance
- Property Value or Mortgage Info
- Or Occupational Licenses
👉 As an example:
You could have a high-income executive who owns a $2 million dollar home with just a $500,000 mortgage on it, has $1 million in savings and investments, but could still have a lousy credit score if he/she has negative items in their credit file.
It’s been said that the FICO score (especially early iterations known as legacy scores) does a good job of summarizing your history as a borrower/credit user, but does not necessarily do a great job at predicting your future credit risk.
That’s why most lenders don’t rely 100% on your FICO score.
What Else Do Lenders Look at Besides FICO Score?
It’s important to know that many lenders want to know more than just your 3-digit FICO score.
Your credit score’s job is to help lenders quickly identify you as a high-risk or low-risk (or somewhere in-between) borrower.
When applying for a car, home, or personal loan (or credit card), underwriters may ask and take other variables (not found in your credit file) into consideration such as:
- Occupation & Work History
- Total Debt & Debt-to-Income Ratio
- If You Rent or Own
- Your Age
- Size of Your Down Payment (if applicable)
And many lenders keep “scorecards” on their borrowers based on their own custom (often closely guarded) secret formulas. These models take, not just your credit score, but many other factors into consideration to come up with their own unique risk profile score for each borrower.
So in a sense, there are thousands of types of credit scores out there.
Besides that, lenders might also purchase alternative data on you to help round out the picture, which we will now cover.
FICO Score Alternatives (Non-Traditional Credit Scores)
There are over 26 million Americans without a credit score due to a lack of credit history. These are known as the “credit invisible.” An additional 62 million Americans have a “thin” credit file, which means they have few (if any) credit accounts, and a staggering 1 in 5 Americans has subprime credit.
In the industry, we also call this group the “unbanked” or “underbanked.”
Bad credit (or the lack of a credit score) makes it incredibly difficult for many people to get access to new credit such as an auto loan, home loan, or getting approved for a credit card.
FICO’s model simply can’t score everyone and because of that, an enormous number of middle-class Americans have little-to-no access to credit.
But there are ways to sidestep this problem…
As we have previously discussed, the FICO scoring model has its limitations. FICO Scores are comprised only of the following:
- Age of Credit Accounts – 15% of score
- Credit Mix – 10% of score
- Payment History – 35%
- Credit Utilization Rate – 30%
- Number of Inquiries – 10% of score
So besides pulling FICO scores and taking additional application data into consideration in their approval decisions, lenders have sought more consumer data to gain even more insight into the risk of their borrowers.
Enter alternative scoring models…
Alternative credit scores are created from data about consumers not traditionally found in the credit files at the big 3 credit reporting companies such as:
- rent payments
- utility payments
- property ownership
- bank balances
- and dozens of other data points
For people with “thin files” or who have borderline credit scores, lenders can get more information about them and possibly approve them for more loans. This enhances lenders’ credit risk models and allows them to lend money to people who may not have qualified solely with a FICO Score (or lack thereof).
How Do the Big 3 Credit Bureaus Fit Into Your FICO Scores?
Now let’s quickly discuss how Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (the big 3 credit reporting companies) fit into your FICO scores.
Remember in our food metaphor, FICO was our master chef.
The big 3 credit bureaus have the ingredients (all your credit history that makes up your credit file).
How do they get this info about you? Various entities may furnish credit information to the credit bureaus such as by banks, debt collectors, loan companies, and other creditors.
But here’s the thing.
Sometimes these entities only report your credit activity to one or two of the credit bureaus so the ingredients that make up your score could be different at Experian than it is at, say, TransUnion.
FICO then comes in and overlays its unique credit scoring model on top of the information at the credit bureaus (which again, may be different) which results in… you guessed it… three separate credit scores, which often do not match.
Notice these real scores provided by my brother, Mark. In some scoring models (like the Auto Scores), they differ by more than 50 points.
TransUnion FICO Scores
Experian FICO Scores
Equifax FICO Scores
That’s why you hear people ask why their TransUnion score is different than their Experian score.
You see, the chef (FICO) prepared the scores like always, but it was the ingredients that were different!
FICO Score vs Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax Scores
Keep in mind these are four separate for-profit companies that didn’t always work so closely together.
Each of the credit bureaus started out also playing the part of chef and using their own scoring models to prepare a credit score or credit report to sell to lenders.
For example, Experian has the “Experian PLUS Score” and Equifax has the “Equifax RISK Score.” These were both credit scores based on Experian and Equifax’s own proprietary scoring model and data, respectively.
But today, these are mostly obsolete. Now if you go to Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax for a credit score, they’ll sell you a FICO score.
So today, if a lender says they are going to “pull your Experian score,” they actually mean your FICO score based on Experian’s data.
💡 Did you know?
Are you wondering what FICO means? FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, founded by Bill Fair and Earl Isaac in 1956. Today, it’s the largest and best-known company that provides software for calculating credit scores.
Types of FICO® Scores (There are 28!)
We have already said the FICO 8 is the most popularly used credit score.
But you don’t have just one FICO 8.
You have three!
(Each one pulls its information from a separate credit bureau: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian).
You also have three FICO 9 Scores.
As if that weren’t confusing enough, FICO has developed industry-specific scores for auto lenders, credit card companies, home lenders, and others.
These are called:
- FICO Auto Scores
- FICO Bankcard Scores
- and FICO Mortgage Scores
These scores are particularly skewed towards helping lenders in a specific industry calculate the risk that a borrower will default on their particular loan product.
For example, we have auto-enhanced scores (FICO Auto Scores).
An auto-enhanced score will give more weight for auto loan and lease payment history, while Bankcard scores weigh credit card and personal loan activity more heavily.
All 28 FICO Scores:
When we bring the industry-specific scores together with the 3 credit bureaus, we get a total of 28 FICO scores. As you can see, all versions of 8 and 9 have a unique score from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, while all versions of FICO 4 come from TransUnion, all versions of FICO 5 are from Equifax, and all versions of FICO 2 belong to Experian.
|Auto||FICO Auto Score 4, 8, 9||FICO Auto Score 5, 8, 9||FICO Auto Score 2, 8, 9|
|Mortgage||FICO Score 4||FICO Score 5||FICO Score 2|
|Credit Card||FICO Bankcard Score 4, 8, 9||FICO Bankcard Score 5, 8, 9||FICO Bankcard Score 2, 8, 9, FICO Score 3|
|General||FICO Score 8, 9||FICO Score 8, 9||FICO Score 8, 9|
All 28 scores are included when buying the FICO Score 3B Report from myFICO, or when buying the Ultimate 3B subscription monitoring service (see details here).
FICO Score Ranges for All 28 Scores
Many people assume the FICO score range is from 300 to 850 across the board, but the reality is that is the range for less than half of all FICO scores.
350 – 850: Mortgage & General Score Ranges (10 Scores)
Your FICO score will range between 300 to 850 for all of the general scores such as FICO 8 and 9 as well as your mortgage scores (FICO 2, 4, and 5).
FICO 3 also has a range of 350 to 850, although it is mostly used for credit cards.
250 – 900: Auto & Bankcard Scores (18 Scores)
FICO assigns a different scoring range to its industry-specific scoring models. You have 9 FICO Bankcard scores and 9 FICO Auto Scores and they all have a range of 250 to 900.
VantageScore® – (More Than the Free Score You Get with Credit Karma)
The VantageScore was created in 2006 by the three nationally recognized credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, when they came together to form VantageScore Solutions.
It was created to be a rival score to the FICO Score, with the hopes that lenders would widely adopt the score and the credit bureaus could cut out the middle man (Or in other words, they hoped to stop paying Fair Isaac for FICO Scores!)
If we continue with our food analogy, the VantageScore is like another chef. Just like FICO, it pulls its ingredients (personal data) from the three credit reporting companies, but its style of cooking is a bit different.
It would be like if your ingredients were eggs and bread.
One chef might make you an egg sandwich. Another chef might toast the bread and serve it to you with eggs, over-easy. Same ingredients but two different chefs will prepare slightly different results.
Who Uses VantageScore?
But VantageScore aims to be a whole lot more than an educational score.
They want to be considered as a serious alternative to the FICO Score in underwriting decisions.
And it appears they are gaining some traction.
According to VantageScore Solutions, VantageScore is now widely used across the board, except in mortgage lending. Here are some stats:
- 12.3 BILLION VantageScore credit scores were used in the timeframe of July 2018 – June 2019 from 2500 users
- They’ve grown about 20% per year
- 9 of the 10 largest banks use VantageScore in one or more lines of business.
- 29 of the 100 largest credit unions use V.S. in one or more lines of business
- 150 million scores were used for consumer and personal lenders underwriting or account opening decisions
- 38 million scores were used by auto lenders for underwriting or account opening decisions. It would be nice to know which ones use it, but VantageScore Solutions does not advertise which auto lenders use VantageScore
VantageScore Solutions believes their score is more predictive, more accurate, and easier for the consumer to access (more consumer-friendly).
35 Credit Scoring Models and Their Credit Score Ranges
Some of the most commonly cited resources online today are hopelessly out of date, 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
FICO 8 FAQs
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.
This is a common question that confuses the credit scoring model with the numbered FICO models. It’s kind of a funny mix up when you think about it, ‘Is a FICO score of 8 good?’ Credit score ranges run between 300 and 850 which lenders use to help determine your credit worthiness. Whereas, FICO numbers there different products for the different financial industries. For instance, FICO 8 is the most commonly used credit scoring product as compared to a FICO 2 which is used for mortgages exclusively.
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.
Fico Auto Score FAQs
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.
FICO Bankcard Scores FAQs
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.
FICO 5 FAQs
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.
Fico 2 FAQs
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.
FICO 4 FAQs
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 (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
FICO 9 FAQs
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.
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. The VantageScore is used for educational purposes, but is also gaining steam as a legitimate contender to FICO. For our full comparison, click here.
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. This Reddit also shows several credit cards that allow you to get a FICO score.
👆 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.
|Service||Score/s Provided||Cost||Quick Link|
|MyFICO||ALL FICO Scores, Plus 2, 4, & 5 and Auto & Bankcard||$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|
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.
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.