At a Glance

Having a good credit score is essential when making major life decisions. Understanding the various credit scores can help you better understand your financial situation and make sound decisions. While most people are familiar with FICO and VantageScore, multiple credit scoring models are used by lenders, creditors, and other organizations.

The main categories are ‘Generic’ (FICO and VantageScore) and ‘Industry-specific’ models. Generic models provide an overall view of the financial health of a borrower. In contrast, industry-specific models may vary from lender to lender and offer more detailed views into a borrower’s ability to repay debt in specific areas such as auto loans or mortgages. With so many options available today, staying informed about how each model works is essential to take full advantage of different credit opportunities.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a numerical value used to measure an individual’s creditworthiness. Lenders use credit scores to assess the likelihood of an individual defaulting on payments and determine whether loans should be extended. Credit scores can range from 300-850, with a higher score implying better financial health. Factors such as payment history and debt owed are considered when calculating a credit score. Understanding your credit score may help you make sound financial decisions and determine what kind of loan terms you can qualify for.

Related: Credit Score Ranges

What are the types of credit scores?

Credit scores are numerical summaries of a person’s creditworthiness and are used by lenders when assessing someone’s financial health. The FICO score is the most common type of credit score, named after its creators, the Fair Isaac Corporation. Other popular types of credit scores include the VantageScore and CreditXpert scores. These credit scoring models use different attributes and algorithms to evaluate an individual’s credit profile. Individuals with higher credit scores usually qualify for lower loan interest rates and more access to specific lines of credit. Conversely, lower credit scores may limit a person’s options when borrowing money or applying for new financing. Consumers need to understand the different credit scores available to better anticipate how their borrowing activities may impact their financial standing.

1. FICO Model

The FICO Model is the industry standard for credit scores and is widely used by lenders to assess an individual’s creditworthiness. Developed by Fair Isaac Corporation, the FICO score encapsulates a consumer’s financial history into a three-digit snapshot of their credit health. This score considers payment histories, utilization rates, length of credit history, new inquiries, and types of credit accounts to determine a consumer’s borrowing potential. Because this model bases its calculations on complex algorithms and multiple data sources, it allows lenders to access reliable information quickly and efficiently. The specificity of this system has revolutionized consumer lending capabilities and become essential to businesses seeking detailed insight into consumer finances before approving a loan or issuing a new line of credit.

2. VantageScore Model

The VantageScore model quickly became a popular scoring tool among most major lenders and creditors. Developed by the three major consumer credit bureaus, this innovative system has revolutionized how people are evaluated when applying for loans or other financial services. By combining hundreds of data points and using a rigorous algorithm, the VantageScore provides a comprehensive but more accurate picture of consumer creditworthiness than traditional models. As such, it’s become the go-to solution for businesses seeking reliable and actionable consumer data that caters to their specific criteria and risk avoidance tactics.

3. Other Scoring Models

Knowing your credit score is critical to financial health, but few people know that several other models are used to measure creditworthiness. While FICO and VantageScore remain two of the most widely used models, companies such as Experian Boost, CreditXpert, and even select lenders have their proprietary scoring models. Each company will analyze individual information differently; while one model might consider an investor’s past rental payments, another may place more importance on the length of the payment timeline. To get a complete picture of your financial standing, it can be beneficial to investigate multiple scoring models and compare them.

How do these models calculate your credit score?


FICO is a credit reporting agency that produces your credit score for creditors using information from your credit report. This rating can affect everything from car loans and mortgage approval to insurance premiums. FICO uses five factors when calculating your credit score: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit used. Your payment history accounts for 35% of the final calculation. Therefore, making payments adequately and on time is essential if you want a good financial standing with creditors. The amount owed represents 30% of the score; keeping balances low relative to your total available credit limit is important. The remaining factors are also weighted to determine an accurate understanding of an individual’s financial risk level.

2. VantageScore

VantageScore is a credit scoring model that uses a range from 300 to 850 to provide a snapshot of a person’s creditworthiness. This model utilizes positive and negative information to calculate an individual’s score, including payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, types of credit used, and recent inquiries. Payment history carries the highest weight when calculating the score since it indicates how willing someone is to pay their debts on time. The score will also consider if balances owed have exceeded credit limits or if any collections have been reported. In addition, the utilization ratio—which essentially shows the amount you are borrowing relative to your available credit—is included as part of the calculation.

VantageScore provides lenders with an excellent tool that can be used to evaluate potential borrowers without relying solely on traditional credit bureaus, thus helping ensure more people can access different forms of financial services at better rates and terms.

Why do you get different scores from different bureaus?

The various credit bureaus look at many variables to assign a score, and even the way they calculate these parameters may differ. Each bureau will have available data from different lenders due to factors such as the lender’s subscription choices or reliance on certain bureaus. Additionally, a bureau’s scoring system may weigh different elements differently from another.

In some cases, there could be a slight difference in scores due to one person’s score simply being higher than another; essentially, neither of them had an error with their credit report or score. Despite differences in calculation methods or data availability, all three major credit bureaus provide reliable credit reports and can broadly agree on consumer behavior and risk assessment that contributes to where each consumer stands regarding their creditworthiness.

How to check your credit scores and reports?

Checking your credit scores and reports can be a helpful exercise to ensure your financial health. It gives you an idea of how potential lenders may perceive your creditworthiness, which is essential to consider when taking out loans for big purchases such as a house or car. To check your scores and reports, you’ll need to sign up for a specialized service that pulls information from one or more major credit agencies – often, these services provide score tracking over time so you can easily monitor changes in your score. Once you have access to your report and scores, you should review them closely – incorrect or outdated information could potentially lead to trouble down the line, so pay attention to the details.


The toughest credit score to obtain among the models is the FICO Score 8, which ranges from 300-850. It is a widely used model for calculating creditworthiness, and lenders usually utilize this data when reviewing potential borrowers. This type of scoring considers important factors such as payment history, available credit, credit inquiries, and debt level to determine an overall score.
It is generally accepted that someone with a FICO Score 8 above 700 is likely to have a lower risk of defaulting on their loan or making late payments on monthly bills. Overall, the FICO Score 8 indicates how well someone will be able to handle debt in the future and can significantly influence whether loan applications are approved or rejected.

Concerning credit scores, the answer depends on your circumstances. Generally, the FICO score is considered the most widely used and respected credit score; however, other scoring models should also be considered. Your VantageScore is another crucial metric, as are several related factors: payment history and number of open accounts, to name a few.
It’s essential to understand which measure lenders employ before making any significant financial decisions; with the correct information and an understanding of the options available, you’ll have the best chance of optimizing your credit score for a better outcome.

Credit scores can be tricky to manage, and the questions about which score is the most accurate can vary depending on what’s used for. Generally, FICO scores are the most accurate when it comes to analyzing credit behavior since this type of score is used by many lenders when making credit-related decisions.
On the other hand, Experian also offers its VantageScore system, which its website states is “a proprietary scoring model developed jointly by Experian and FICO.” This score is based on different information than FICO’s score uses, which can lead to varying views on accuracy. Ultimately, consumers should understand their situation and get an idea of what their credit looks like using FICO and Experian’s VantageScore to make the best long-term financial decisions.