The Difference Between VantageScore and FICO

In the United States, there are two different credit scoring models; FICO and VantageScore.

Understanding the difference between the two scoring models and when each one is used can provide you with some valuable insight into how lenders and other financial entities view your financial health.

What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a number unique to you and your finances. In simple terms, a credit score gauges how likely you are to pay back a loan on time. This ever-changing number is used by lenders to determine your eligibility for a mortgage, car loan, credit card, and virtually anything that has to do with borrowing money.

Your credit score has become as ingrained as the Social Security number as part of your identity. Dreams are built and crushed by this three-digit controller. Your credit score usually falls between 300 and 850.

This number is based on information found on your credit report. These reports, collected and stored by credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), contain data assimilated from banks, credit card companies, the public court systems, collection agencies, and other financial entities.

FICO and VantageScore then use the data from your credit reports to generate your credit score. Once generated, companies update their databases monthly to reflect your spending and bill-paying habits accurately. This is why your credit score can change every month.

What is a Credit Scoring Model?

A credit scoring model is a statistical analysis program used by FICO and VantageScore to generate your credit score. These agencies each have different methods of computing the score and assigning weight to various criteria.

Over the years, both agencies have improved and changed their algorithm based on lenders’ and other entities’ input. Also, FICO has created specific models for various industries.

The data in your credit report is broken down and weighed to get your final score. The two modeling agencies do not divulge all of their calculations; however, we do know the basics.

FICO Score Breakdown

35% is your payment history.

30% is your total amount of debt compared to the total amount of credit.

15% is the total length of your credit history.

10% is a valuation of your new credit accounts and inquiries.

10% is a valuation of your credit mix, a ratio of installment credit to revolving credit.


VantageScore Breakdown

40% is your payment history.

21% is your total depth of credit, and this is a combination of your credit mix and credit age.

20% is your credit utilization or amount owed vs. the total amount of credit available.

11% is your total balance owed across all accounts.

5% is based on your credit applications or hard inquiries.

3% is based on your total available credit

A Brief History

It’s important to understand what the country was like before these scoring models were put in place. Back in the 19th century up until the end of the 20th century, credit reporting agencies, consumers, and businesses were at the mercy of public opinion and rumors when asking for credit.

For instance, if you were trying to get credit from a lender, they would base their decision on information from private individuals. So if your neighbor didn’t like you or didn’t vouch for you, you may not be approved for the credit.

They also used variables like race, religion, gender, and family history to determine your creditworthiness.

For many decades, private life details wreaked havoc and public outcry resulted in the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970. This act forced the credit reporting agencies to open their files to the public and to remove all data reflecting gender, race, disabilities, etc. This act also forced companies to place time limits on negative data.

FICO

Lenders still had a problem, how to interpret this massive amount of data fairly and consistently. Enter Fair Isaac Corporation.

FICO, a data analytics company that was already working on algorithms for determining credit behavior, began working with the three credit reporting agencies to provide a scoring system to consumers.

In 1989, the FICO score was invented as an impartial tool used to assess consumer credit risk.

Although the algorithm changes periodically, the concept and use have stayed the same. Each credit reporting agency has essentially the same information; however, due to businesses being able to report to one or all three agencies, your credit scores may be different from one another.

Each credit reporting agency uses a different FICO model when calculating your credit score. Lenders may pull all three agencies and use the average score to make their decision.

Your credit score may also be different if the lender uses an industry-specific score. FICO has different scoring criteria for the auto industry, credit card companies, and mortgage lenders. The main goal in mind is to provide lenders with an up-to-date picture of their consumers’ behaviors and needs.

VantageScore

VantageScore came to the scene in 2006 and was marketed as a newer, more innovative credit scoring model. The company, VantageScore Solutions, is a result of the three credit reporting agencies joining forces to create a more innovative credit scoring model.

This system, if successful, would provide lenders a more reliable risk assessment while at the same time providing consumers more access to credit. The VantageScore model weighs the data differently than FICO, possibly providing a broader picture of your financial stability.

VantageScore also provides a broader look at consumer behavior. Rather than focus on the most recent data available, the model considers up to two years of information.

This negates the possibility of a one-time event causing a significant change in your credit score. Or, it shows that you always pay your mortgage but are inconsistent in paying your credit cards. Risk assessment is much better using more data.

Like FICO, VantageScore has changed its model a few times to keep up with the ever-changing needs of the consumers and lenders.

Differences Between FICO and VantageScore

If you have requested your FICO score and your VantageScore, you may notice that they do not have the same final number. Here are some key differences between the two scoring models.

FICO creates three scores, while VantageScore only generates one.

This is a pretty substantial difference between the two scoring models. When you request your FICO score, you will actually get three scores; one from each credit reporting agency. Your end result is the average of all three scores.

VantageScore, on the other hand, only generates one score. This is due to the fact that VantageScore was founded by all three credit reporting agencies. Any duplicate information found between the agencies will be disregarded.

New accounts can take longer to appear on your FICO score compared to VantageScore.

For young people just getting started with credit, this is a pretty big difference. To have a FICO score, you must have at least one account that has been opened for six months or more. Furthermore, you must have one account that has been actively reported in the past six months.

To have a credit score with VantageScore, you only need an account to be open and active for one month and one that has been reported to credit reporting agencies in the past two years.

FICO allows more time for “loan shopping” than VantageScore does.

Oftentimes when you want to get a loan, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best interest rates. When this happens, lenders will make a hard inquiry. Hard inquiries can reduce your credit score by 5 points per inquiry.

FICO gives consumers a 45-day window when shopping for a loan. This means if five different lenders make a hard inquiry on your credit, this will only count as one hard inquiry as long as it’s within the time period.

On the other hand, VantageScore only allows for a 14-day window when shopping for loans. If lenders make three hard inquiries ten days apart, your VantageScore will drop a lot more than your FICO score.

FICO and VantageScore factor in different collection accounts when computing your score.

It’s no secret that collection accounts listed on your credit report are damaging to your overall score. Both models compute these accounts a bit differently.

FICO does not factor in paid collections, nor does it include collection accounts under $100. If you have either of these on your credit report, it will not reflect in your FICO score.

VantageScore does not factor in medical bills that are less than six months old, and it also doesn’t include paid collections. Your score for each model will depend on what collection accounts you have on your credit report.

FICO views your payment history equally, while VantageScore does not.

This may be the most crucial piece of information in both models and where the two vary the most.

FICO views your payment history equally across all accounts. For example, a late payment to your credit card company would be no different than a late payment on your mortgage.

VantageScore weighs late payments differently. To them, a late payment on your mortgage is worse than a late payment on a utility bill. This can make a huge difference to your final score.

Public information is weighed differently between FICO and VantageScore.

When reviewing public information that goes into your credit score, the two scoring models again demonstrate how they are different. So when it comes to bankruptcies, judgments, and tax liens, you can bet that your scores will be even more different.

For example, VantageScore does not place much significance on tax liens that appear in your credit reports. However, the FICO scoring model does consider these liens, and your score may be lower.

FICO does not take into account past behavior, while VantageScore uses data from as long as two years in the past.

The FICO model computes your score based on the data available when the scores are pulled; it does not take into account past behavior. This means if you had a bad run for a month or two and your credit card company reports your late payments, this affects your FICO score negatively.

On the other hand, VantageScore looks at your credit for as much as two years when calculating your score. This gives a broader look at your fiscal behavior. If you were late the past month or two on your credit card payment but the other twenty-two months of data show on-time payments, your score won’t be damaged as much.

Which is More Important? FICO or VantageScore?

While the two are competitors, one isn’t necessarily more important than the other. Both FICO and VantageScore provide lenders with an impartial look into your creditworthiness.

According to FICO, their scores are used by 90 percent of lenders in the country. However, VantageScore is becoming more widely used in addition to your FICO score.

When you’re applying for a loan or another line of credit, it can be worthwhile to know the difference between FICO and VantageScore. If you know your FICO score is leaps ahead of your VantageScore, you can seek out lenders that use your FICO score to determine your interest rate or eligibility.

Where Do You Get FICO and VantageScores?

If all of this information has you scratching your head and wanting to compare your scores, it’s important to know where to get them. Both scores are available from the three credit reporting agencies. However, you may have to pay for one or both of your scores.

There are credit monitoring companies that will provide a free score, like CreditKarma.com. Many credit card companies send access to your credit score with your monthly bill.  Typically, it is your VantageScore. A quick web query will give you access to the paid and free sites you can use to order your credit score.

Conclusion

There are some major differences between your VantageScore and your FICO score. However, if you pay your bills on time and don’t overextend your credit, it shouldn’t matter which score is used; both will reflect a healthy financial history.