You probably know that your credit score can affect whether you get approved for a loan or credit card. What you might not know is you could have more than one credit score. In fact, you likely have a few.
But why? And how can you monitor them all? Here are a few reasons why you could have more than one score and tips to track them all:
Reasons why you could have more than one credit score
There are different model providers — The two most common credit score model developers are FICO® and VantageScore®. In fact, VantageScore has two model scales that companies can use to generate your score.1 There are also three main credit bureaus that create their own unique scores based on the information in your credit report. Here are the six different scores and their range of possible scores:
- FICO: 300 – 850
- VantageScore 3.0: 300 – 850
- VantageScore 4.0: 300 – 850
- Experian™: 330 – 830
- Equifax: 300 – 850
- TransUnion®: 300 – 850
Models must be regularly updated — Any credit score model can lose its predictive power over time. As credit scoring models become less predictive, the model must be updated with fresh data and new variables to ensure it keeps pace with the economic climate.
Each reporting agency generates its own score — Each credit reporting agency maintains its own unique credit file based on the information it receives from lenders and banks. Since credit scoring models are applied to your credit file at each credit reporting agency, there can be differences in the data in each credit bureau file, which can cause your credit score to vary.
Updates in credit data — A credit score is like a snapshot in time — it reflects what’s in your credit file at the time the score is pulled. Since your creditors are continually reporting data to the credit bureaus, the updates can happen quite often. For example, if you check your score after several loan and credit card due dates, your score may be different because of recently reported data.
Tips to keep track of all your credit scores
Get your free annual credit report — All consumers are entitled to one free credit report per year from the big three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Just go to annualcreditreport.com to request your free report.
Sign up for a free score provider — There are dozens of free services that allow you to monitor your credit scores, FICO Scores and VantageScore credit scores. Most of them require you to create a profile, but you can choose a no-cost basic subscription that allows you to see your score at any time. Some popular options include:
Check with your credit card company, bank or lender — Some lenders and banks have started providing free credit scores for their customers. Two common places to check are on your monthly statement and in your online account. If you’re unsure where to find it, or whether your lender or bank offers it, contact customer service. If you’re a OneMain customer, you can access your free VantageScore credit score here.
Knowledge is power
Credit scores can impact your financial life in so many ways. By understanding and monitoring all of your scores, you can put yourself in control of your financial future.
For more definitions and tips on building credit, explore these additional articles on credit.
1. VantageScore. “The status quo has lost its status.” VantageScore.com https://www.vantagescore.com/explore-model (accessed September 24, 2019)
This article has been updated from its original posting in 2014.