Why Are My Credit Scores Different?

Aug 12 · 3 min read

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While most people are familiar with having a credit score, it is often a surprising fact that there are multiple ones. There are FICO Scores, VantageScores, and multiple versions of both. Depending on what type of loan you are applying for, which credit bureaus information is being used, and what service you’re using to check your score, your credit scores may look different.

In order to master your credit score, you’ll need to understand why you’re seeing these differences. So let’s get whyze and take a deeper look.

What Is A VantageScore?

Although FICO Scores have proven to be the most used credit scores by lenders, some do look at your VantageScore. A VantageScore is a credit score similar to FICO but instead was created by the three credit bureaus to compete with FICO. While your VantageScore will range from 300 to 850 just like a FICO score, the calculation is slightly different. This means you will see differences in your credit scores if you are comparing a FICO Score to a VantageScore.

You’ll want to keep this in mind as you check your credit scores. While it isn’t nearly as popular with lenders as FICO Scores are, your VantageScore will be displayed to you often when you’re checking your credit score.

Different FICO Scores

Now let’s look at why you might see a difference in your FICO Scores. FICO Scores differ because there are actually different FICO Score types. FICO Scores can be simply categorized into three different score types:

  • FICO Auto Scores
  • FICO Bankcard Scores
  • Traditional FICO Scores

FICO Auto Score

FICO Auto Scores are used by dealerships to evaluate borrowers looking to finance a car purchase. These scores are calculated using the traditional categories but are slightly adjusted for factors that are seen as more of a risk in the auto financing industry. This adjustment also changes the range of your credit score from 300-850 to 250-900.

FICO Bankcard Score

FICO Bankcard Scores are primarily used in determining if you will get approved or declined for a credit card. These scores are also calculated using the traditional categories but are slightly adjusted for factors that are seen as more of a risk in the credit card industry. These adjustments focus on placing a greater value on how well you have managed your credit cards in the past. If you’ve had problems with credit cards in the past, your FICO Bankcard Score will generally be lower. Just like FICO Auto Scores, this adjustment will also change the range of your credit score to 250-900.

Traditional FICO Score

The third category is your traditional FICO Scores. These scores range from 300-850 and will be used for any other type of credit or loan approval. This includes personal loans, mortgages, student loans, and retail store credit cards.

Version Updates

To make things a little more complex, FICO and VantageScores also have different versions. As the financial world constantly changes, both update the scoring process for each of their scores. This is why you will often see one credit bureau using a FICO Score 8 while another uses a FICO Score 9.

Since credit bureaus have the freedom to determine which version of a credit score they prefer, you may often see slight differences between your FICO score from each bureau, even if it’s the same credit score type.

As an example, when it comes to calculating your FICO Score for mortgages, Experian prefers FICO Score 2, Equifax prefers FICO Score 5, and TransUnion prefers FICO Score 4. This can ultimately lead to you having slightly different credit scores for the same type of loan application.

Bottom Line

While credit score types and versions can get complex, the bottom line is that you should know why your credit scores may differ. Regardless of the FICO or VantageScore version, focus on making payments on time, keeping your credit card balances low, and minimizing your inquiries in order to receive a high credit score. This will ensure you receive the best terms, no matter if you’re buying a car, a new home, or applying for a credit card.