What is this Vantage Credit Score?

Just when you’ve finally had the importance of understanding your credit score and credit report drilled into your head
enough times for it to sink in, then pops up yet another credit score—the VantageScore. This one looks and acts different from the score you’ve come to know, but what is really?

Well, warm up your cocoa and snuggle up to the fairy tale of credit reporting…

Once upon a time, in 1956 an engineer (Bill Fair) and a mathematician (Earl Isaac) got together and created the Fair Isaac
Company. They developed the first credit scoring system and went public with the FICO credit score a few years later. FICO grew fast and became the industry standard for credit bureau scoring and is still used by lenders around the world.

Years pass and credit lending increases around the world. Credit reporting agencies provide information to FICO and the
Fair Isaac Company grows and prospers.

Meanwhile other smart companies see that credit scoring makes a tidy business. Lenders need a way to predict the amount
of risk of lending to individuals and consumers want to know how lenders rank them, so develops the business of credit score modeling. This leads the three big reporting agencies, Trans Union, Equifax and Experian, to develop their own cooperative product that competes with FICO. That would be VantageScore.

VantageScore was introduced in 2006, but gained attention when Credit Karma included the VantageScore on its free credit tracking website. According to Paul DeSaulniers, Director, VantageScore, VantageScore use is up 57% year over year in 2011.

VantageScore claims to offer a more “consistent interpretation” and “accurate score” than FICO. One major difference VantageScore claims is that this score is weighs current information more heavily than old information. Therefore, if you have aging negatives, they could be holding your FICO down whereas the Vantage model pays them little mind.

DeSaulniers provided the following when asked how many lenders review VantageScore:

  • Four of the Top-5 financial institutions
  • Five of the Top-5 credit card issuers
  • Two of the Top-5 auto lenders

The moral of the story for consumers is don’t get caught up in the numbers since they may not be the best use of your time. Ultimately you need not worry about which scoring model your lender reviews. More importantly you should pay attention to your overall rating. The numbers reported by VantageScore won’t be the same as FICO, but your overall rating of Excellent, Good, Poor, etc, should not be that far off.

Do check your rating, however. If FICO scores rates you as Excellent and VantageScore gives you a C, you’ll want to look at what you can do to improve your scores. It could be that your VantageScore is more like a low B and a few small changes could fix it.

Overview of the scoring models

VantageScore

  • Score range is from 501 to 990
  • VantageScore uses letter grades to spell out your
    credit health: 901-990 = A or Super Prime, 801-900 = B or Prime Plus,
    701-800 = C or Prime, 601-700 = D or Non-Prime, and 501-600 = F or High
    Risk.
  • Takes into account 6 components of your credit report:
    payment history, utilization, balances, depth of credit, recent credit,
    and available credit.
  • VantageScore claims to score thin file consumers
    more accurately by providing predictive scores for consumers with limited
    histories

Additional features:

  • VantageScore is based primarily on the last 24 months
    of actions on a consumer’s credit file
  • Keep in mind, your VantageScore will still vary between
    the three credit bureaus. While they use the same scoring model, the
    information on your credit report may differ from bureau to bureau

FICO

  • FICO range is from 300 to 850
  • No letter grades for FICO
  • Takes into account 5 components of credit report:
    payment history, amount of debt, credit history, types of accounts, and
    inquiries.
  • Thin file consumers often cannot generate a credit
    score at all, or are scored with inflated, high scores because they have
    few credit actions on file
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