FICO® is to credit scores what Kleenex® is to tissues. But the VantageScore® credit score, even with less name recognition among consumers, is giving FICO serious competition. Touted as a consumer-friendlier scoring model, more than 2,200 financial institutions used more than 6 billion VantageScore credit scores from July 2016 to June 2017, according to research firm Oliver Wyman.
Today, both VantageScore 3.0 and FICO 8 are the most commonly used scoring models. A majority of U.S. consumers have a VantageScore and FICO credit score. In fact, the three credit reporting agencies – TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian® – have VantageScores and FICO scores.
But consumers can’t pick which credit score or scores the lender will view. And they can’t choose from which of the three credit reporting agencies a creditor will pull their report and score.
What is certain is that the credit score behemoths share more similarities than differences. But those few key differences allow VantageScore to benefit millions of consumers.
FICO, Fair Isaac Corporation, was founded in 1956 by engineer William Fair and mathematician Earl Isaac, and sold its credit scoring system to lenders, which helped them determine a potential borrower’s creditworthiness. FICO unveiled its first consumer-facing credit score in 2001. FICO still has the dominant footprint in the consumer credit industry.
VantageScore, an independently managed company, was developed by TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian® in March 2006 as a FICO alternative. Since its inception, VantageScore has gained acceptance with lenders and consumers in most credit categories.
- Score Ranges – Both use a scale of 300 to 850. But there are subtle differences within the ranges:
- VantageScore Scale
- 810 – 850 = EXCELLENT
- 750 – 809 = GREAT
- 670 – 749 = GOOD
- 560 – 669 = FAIR
- 500 – 559 = POOR
- 300 – 499 = VERY POOR
- FICO Scale
- 800 – 850 = EXCELLENT
- 740 – 799 = VERY GOOD
- 670 – 739 = GOOD
- 580 – 669 = FAIR
- 300 – 579 = POOR
- VantageScore Scale
- Credit File Sourcing – Both gather consumer credit files from TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian®.
- Rating Criteria – Factors that matter most to your scores also carry the most weight for both:
- Payment history
- Length of credit history
- Types of credit
- Outstanding debt
- Recent inquiries
- Paid Collection Accounts – Collection accounts you have paid off no longer count against you with both.
- Multiple Credit Inquiries – Both penalize you for multiple hard inquiries within a short time frame.
- Scoring Requirements – VantageScore’s consumer-friendlier model can issue credit scores to 30-35 million people considered “unscorable” by FICO.
- VantageScore only requires one month of credit history and one account reported within the past two years. FICO requires at least six months of credit history and at least one credit account reported within the last six months.
- VantageScore will accept alternative scoring data, such as utility, rent and phone bill payments that have been reported to the credit bureaus. FICO does not.
- Rate Shopping – When seeking financing for a home, auto or student loan, both credit scoring companies count multiple credit inquiries as a single inquiry – if certain conditions are met. The difference between VantageScore and FICO is the time frame allotted to shop for rates. FICO’s shopping window is larger, allowing 45 days to compare rates. VantageScore allows just 14 days for rate-shopping.
- Late Payments – If you have a history of late payments, both VantageScore and FICO scores take a hit – but depending on the type of account, the impact will differ.
- FICO treats all late payments the same, whether it’s your credit card or mortgage.
- VantageScore judges late payments differently – with mortgages carrying a heavier penalty than a credit card or other type of credit.
- For consumers whose creditors note that they have been affected by a natural or declared disaster, VantageScore counts negative information as “neutral” during that time and acknowledges positive information so it reflected in their score calculations.