At a Glance

In personal finance, credit scores are crucial in determining the creditworthiness of individuals seeking loans or credit. Lenders rely on credit scores to assess the risk of lending money and make informed decisions about interest rates, loan amounts, and approval. However, with various credit scoring models available, it can be confusing to understand which credit score lenders use. This article aims to shed light on the credit scores commonly used by lenders and provide insights into their significance.

In this article, you’ll learn:



The average FICO score in the U.S.

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Which FICO score do lenders use

When it comes to credit scores, the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) is a widely recognized and trusted name. FICO has developed several scoring models, but the FICO Score 8 is the most commonly used by lenders. This scoring model considers payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, credit mix, and new credit inquiries. However, it’s important to note that some lenders may use earlier versions of the FICO Score or customized versions tailored to their specific industry or loan type.

1. Mortgage lenders

Lenders often rely on a version of the FICO Score designed explicitly for the mortgage industry for mortgage loans. The FICO Score 2, 4, or 5 are commonly used in mortgage lending, depending on the mortgage type and loan program. These scores place significant emphasis on payment history and debt levels to assess the borrower’s ability to handle mortgage payments.

2. Auto loan lenders

Auto loan lenders typically use the FICO Auto Score, a variant of the FICO Score tailored to assess creditworthiness for auto loans. This scoring model considers factors such as previous auto loan payments, credit mix, and length of credit history. Lenders use this score to evaluate the borrower’s ability to make consistent payments on an auto loan.

3. Credit card issuers

Credit card issuers primarily use the FICO Bankcard Score, a specialized scoring model for the credit card industry. This score places more emphasis on revolving credit utilization and payment patterns, as credit card accounts are a form of revolving credit. By evaluating this score, credit card issuers determine the credit limits and interest rates they offer to potential cardholders.

Do any lenders use VantageScore?

While FICO scores are the most commonly used by lenders, the VantageScore is an alternative credit scoring model gaining popularity. Developed collaboratively by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), VantageScore offers a different approach to credit scoring. While some lenders do consider VantageScore, it is still not as widely adopted as FICO scores. However, it’s essential to be aware that credit scores can vary between FICO and VantageScore, potentially leading to different assessments of creditworthiness.

How do lenders use credit scores?

Lenders use credit scores as one of many factors in their decision-making process. A credit score provides a quick snapshot of an individual’s creditworthiness, allowing lenders to assess the risk associated with lending money. While credit scores play a significant role, lenders also consider other factors, such as income, employment history, debt-to-income ratio, and the purpose of the loan. These additional factors provide a more comprehensive view of an applicant’s financial situation.


FICO and VantageScore are two distinct credit scoring models. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, while VantageScores range from 300 to 850 or 501 to 990, depending on the version. Both scoring models consider similar factors, such as payment history, credit utilization, and length of credit history. However, they may weigh these factors differently, leading to potential score variations.

Learn more: FICO Score vs. Vantage Score

Different credit scores exist because various entities develop and offer their own scoring models. FICO scores were the first widely used scoring models, and over time, alternative scoring models like VantageScore emerged. These models may use different algorithms and place different weights on certain credit factors, leading to variations in scores.

Learn more: Types of Credit Scores

There is no definitive answer to which credit score is most accurate. FICO and VantageScore are both reputable and widely used credit scoring models. The accuracy of a credit score depends on the specific lender and the scoring model they choose to utilize. It’s crucial for individuals to monitor their credit reports regularly, maintain responsible financial habits, and strive for a good credit history overall.