When you fill out a loan application, the lender will pull your credit to determine whether they should lend you money or not depending on your credit score. The score you receive will most likely come from FICO or their competitor VantageScore. So are these two credit scores the same? Not exactly.
The majority of lenders rely on credit score results from the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). FICO pulls credit information from the three big credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. FICO then uses this information to assess your creditworthiness and assign a score between 300 and 850.
A FICO score breaks down into five categories, which in general receive the following weights in the calculations:
Payment history (35%)
The number one thing lenders want to know about your credit is whether you’ve paid the bills on your credit accounts and whether you’ve made those payments on time. Missed and late payments will hurt your score, but consistently making payments on time will keep your score high.
Amounts owed (30%)
Owing money won’t hurt your score, but excessive amounts of debt could lower it.
Length of credit history (15%)
Generally speaking, FICO will reward credit users with a longer credit history with a higher score. This score looks at the age of all of your credit accounts, and how long it’s been since you used each of those accounts. Having a short credit history will not necessarily cause you to have a low score—if you rate well in all other categories, that is.
Credit mix (10%)
This is where having a range of different kinds of credit, such as credit cards, retail accounts, and installment loans, will benefit your credit score. Don’t get too crazy though; having too many credit accounts can damage your score.
New credit (10%)
Opening several accounts in a short period of time will hurt your score, especially if your credit history is on the shorter side. Signal to lenders that you’re not a credit risk by pacing the opening of new credit accounts.
A FICO credit score will always take each of these five categories into account, but the exact weights will vary depending on a given person’s financial situation.
Your FICO score may be a key piece of the puzzle.
VantageScore uses credit data from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion to designate a credit score between 300 and 850. The main difference is the type of data used to determine a score, and how the credit information is weighted. Here are a few areas where VantageScore’s calculations differ from FICO:
VantageScore requires only a month of credit history, as opposed to the six months required by FICO. VantageScore will typically give higher scores than FICO to people with short credit history.
VantageScore penalizes late mortgage payments more than any other kind of late payment, whereas FICO treats all late credit payments equally.
VantageScore ignores any collection accounts once they have been paid off, while FICO only ignores collection accounts if their original balance was less than $100.
Evaluate these criteria and compare them to your own financial situation. You might get a better credit score from either one of the scoring authorities.
Improve Your Credit
Follow these guidelines to improve your FICO and VantageScore credit scores:
- Pay off your credit accounts on time
- Keep your credit balances lower than 30% of your credit limit
- Only open new credit accounts when you really need them
Need help with your credit? Learn how our Home Buyer Solutions Group can help!