Your credit score is an important piece of information when it comes to applying for loans, getting the best interest rates and even securing a place to live. Chances are you’re familiar with the FICO score, which is the primary credit scoring model, but there’s also the VantageScore.
This FICO competitor has been gaining in popularity and use over the past several years and differs somewhat from other traditional credit scoring models. Below we go into detail about what a VantageScore is, how the scoring is determined and who can see it.
The VantageScore Explained
VantageScore is a type of credit score calculated with slightly different math and data than other models. While FICO has been the leading credit scoring model for some time, other models have been created to help address and improve upon some of the weaknesses in the FICO score. VantageScore was first introduced in 2006 and, since then, has undergone several adjustments to reflect a more accurate representation of a person’s creditworthiness.
While VantageScore still isn’t quite as popular as the FICO model, it’s a good idea to know what your VantageScore is and what factors may be affecting it to help you maintain good credit and improve less-than-great credit.
Differences Between VantageScore and FICO Score
While the VantageScore and FICO scoring models are similar, they have some key differences to be aware of, including:
- Length of credit history. VantageScore models require you to only have one account for one month before it starts reporting a score, while FICO requires six months of credit history before issuing you a number.
- Credit history weight. While both FICO and VantageScore models take into consideration your long-term credit history, VantageScore puts the most weight on the last 24 months, which can be helpful for those trying to rebuild their credit.
- Collection accounts. Having an account go into collections is a guaranteed hit to your credit score, but small balance bills might be less detrimental in the FICO model. That’s because it doesn’t consider collection accounts where the original balance is under $100.
Differences Between VantageScore 3.0 and VantageScore 4.0
VantageScore models are updated periodically. Currently, many organizations use the VantageScore 3.0 model, but VantageScore 4.0 was introduced in 2017. The VantageScore 4.0 model includes some adjustments to help appropriately account for items such as medical bills while also creating a fair and balanced approach to consumer credit scoring.
What Determines My VantageScore?
Under the VantageScore model, the main factors for determining your credit score include:
- Total credit usage, including total balances and remaining available credit
- Credit mix, such as having both revolving and installment accounts
- Payment history
- Age of credit history
- Number of recently opened accounts and credit inquiries
In general, the lower your credit utilization ratio is, the better—meaning, don’t carry much of a balance on your cards every month. Lenders also like to see that you’re able to handle a mixture of different debts and that you make timely payments over the long term. And while applying for new credit can slightly drop your score temporarily, the number of recently opened accounts is the least important factor in determining your VantageScore.
What Is a Good VantageScore?
Under the VantageScore 4.0 model, a good VantageScore would be from 661 to 780. An excellent score ranges from 780 to 850, where the VantageScore model tops out. This is very similar to FICO’s scoring range, which rates a good credit score at 670 – 739 and an excellent credit score at 740 – 850.
Who Can See My VantageScore?
Any lender who uses the VantageScore model to check the creditworthiness of potential clients or applicants can see your VantageScore if you give them permission. This is usually done when you sign the application for a loan or another debt.
Other people who may be able to see your VantageScore include landlords, employers or other entities who do background checks that include credit scores. Again, you generally have to give the other party permission to check your credit reporting and get access to your score.
Creditors with whom you have an existing relationship, such as a credit card provider, can also potentially see your VantageScore. They may use your score as a way to qualify you for new offers, for example.
How Can I Get My VantageScore?
You can get your VantageScore through two of the main credit bureaus: TransUnion and Experian. Keep in mind that accessing your credit score is different than accessing your credit report, and while you’re typically entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the three credit bureaus, getting your credit score often requires paying a fee or going through a credit score service. (For a limited time, you can actually receive free credit reports on a weekly basis.) Some credit card companies and other financial institutions provide your credit score, including VantageScore and FICO, as part of their member benefits. You may also be able to get your score through a credit repair company as part of their services. Reach out to the credit consultants at Lexington Law to learn more about your FICO score and other credit-related information.
Reviewed by John Heath, Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, John Heath earned his BA from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Ohio Northern University. John has been the Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm since 2004. The firm focuses primarily on consumer credit report repair, but also practices family law, criminal law, general consumer litigation and collection defense on behalf of consumer debtors. John is admitted to practice law in Utah, Colorado, Washington D. C., Georgia, Texas and New York.
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