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FICO Scores Now Come in 19 Versions

[Thursday, April 9th, 2015]

FICO is offering consumers access to 19 different versions of their FICO score from the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The new scores represent about 95% of FICO scores used by lenders to make decisions about potential borrowers.

Credit scores are used to determine consumer creditworthiness for things like mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, and more. A higher score translates to a lower interest rate, while a low score can result in an applicant being turned down for a line of credit.

Different credit bureaus, different scores

There are six versions of the FICO score available from TransUnion, six from Equifax, and seven from Experian. They are available for purchase from Different scores are used by different lenders to make credit decisions. More than 10 billion FICO scores were purchased by lenders last year and used in 90% of lending decisions in the United States.

All of the credit scores range from 300 to 850 and are based on the same five basic factors: payment history, length of credit history, debt-to-credit ratio, number of new credit inquiries, and types of credit. Having a strong and consistent history of making credit card payments on time is one of the most important elements in achieving a good credit score. Keeping debt to less than 30% of total available credit is another way to ensure a healthy credit score.

Not all credit scores are equal

Even though credit scores are based on the same elements, not all scores are the same, even for the same consumer. That’s because certain lenders report consumer behavior only to one credit bureau. Each bureau, therefore, may have different information for the same person. That can result in one person having different credit scores, depending on which bureau the score comes from and which factors are more heavily weighted.

FICO has a proprietary method of calculating credit scores, changing the formula according to the type of potential loan, resulting in these 19 different scores offered to lenders.

Folks who are concerned with having a good credit score—generally considered to be something in the 700-plus range—should focus on keeping their debt load low, making payments on time, utilizing different types of loans, keeping accounts open to achieve a long credit history, and minimizing the amount of new credit inquiries on their accounts. If they do these things, all 19 scores will generally stay in the healthy range.

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