Receiving a credit score can be helpful for understanding your financial wellness. There are several sources where you can get your credit score, including credit bureaus and third-party credit websites. With multiple options available, you may be wondering which of these sources is the most accurate. Simply put, there is no “more accurate” score when it comes down to receiving your score from the major credit bureaus.
In this article, you will learn:
- Different types of credit scores
- What goes into calculating your credit score
- How to receive your most accurate credit score
- Which credit bureau is the most accurate
- What third-party credit scores are
- How international credit scores are calculated
What are the different types of credit scores?
There are two main types of models for developing your credit score, the VantageScore® and the FICO® score. Let’s see how these two scores differ and how they are used.
The VantageScore model—specifically Version 3.0 which is the most widely used—considers similar factors to the FICO score model. However, how these factors are treated and weighted differently. For example, your credit utilization ratio accounts for a large part of the amounts owed factor. This factor has a much greater impact when determining your score.
The VantageScore model weighs the following factors when determining a score:
- Payment history (40%) — how timely your payments are and how often you miss or make your payments.
- Depth of credit (21%)—how long you’ve owned a credit card and had open accounts.
- Credit utilization (20%)— also called a credit utilization ratio, it is the sum of how much you owe compared to your total available credit.
- Balances (11%)—this refers to the sum of your recent balances, both current and delinquent, on your credit card accounts.
- Recent credit (5%)— new credit card accounts or loans that you’ve opened that you didn’t have previously.
- Available credit (3%) — accounts that you have available and use currently.
You may have seen the term “FICO score” on a credit report. This scoring model is used by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax®, Experian™ and TransUnion®. A FICO score is the original approach to developing a credit score, which was developed in 1989.
This score is calculated using software from the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) and uses algorithms that help predict consumer behavior. These algorithms are regularly updated to help account for factors like what’s happening in the current economic market.
The FICO model uses the following factors to calculate a credit score:
- Payment history (35%)
- Amounts owed (30%)—this includes how much you’re using your available credit and whether or not you’re overextending.
- Length of credit history (15%)—how long you’ve owned a credit card and had open accounts.
- Credit mix (10%)—the different types of credit card accounts you may have.
- New credit (10%)—new credit card accounts or loans that you’ve opened that you didn’t have previously.
FICO scores are used by over 90% of top lenders and offer a variety of different types of scores. For example, you may receive a FICO Auto Score, which is an adjusted calculation specific to predicting the likelihood of making payments on an auto loan. This score may be used as a tool by your lender when you apply for an auto loan. These different types of scores can be useful for when you go to make large purchases or take out loans.
How to receive the most accurate credit score?
You can receive a credit score in a few ways, one of which is through Chase Credit Journey®. By enrolling, you not only will receive credit scores, but you can also gain access to credit reports and resources to help you understand and build your credit. Credit monitoring services may also be provided to help keep track of your credit.
Additionally, you can get your credit score from the three credit bureaus online or through a third-party source. Keep in mind that these different sources will likely use the FICO scoring model, VantageScore or both to calculate your credit scores.
While FICO score and VantageScore differ in how they weigh the factors discussed above, it’s important to note that one model is not necessarily more accurate than the other. Rather, these scores can be used for different circumstances.
For example, a FICO score is generally used when lenders review mortgage or auto loan applications. These loans are often associated with large amounts of money, so it’s particularly helpful for the lender to know that you can make regular, timely payments. Given the FICO score is used in about 90% of lending decisions, it’s possible that your lender may use your FICO score as a helpful tool when applying for these loans to show your eligibility.
The most accurate credit bureaus
The three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, all use scoring models to generate a credit score. While Experian is the largest bureau in the U.S., it’s not necessarily more accurate than the other credit bureaus. The credit scores that you receive from each of these bureaus could be the same, depending on which scoring model they use.
Receiving different credit scores
It’s possible to receive different credit scores from the three main bureaus, but don’t worry. There could be several reasons why this happens, including:
- The credit bureaus didn’t receive the same information about your credit or payment history.
- The bureau used a different version of the VantageScore model.
- The scores were calculated on different dates.
- Errors appeared on your credit report. If this happens, you may be able to dispute the error with the bureau or your credit card issuer or bank.
For these reasons, minor differences in your credit scores aren’t always cause for concern. However, if one report is showing a significantly different number from another, it’s worth looking into. It’s possible there was an error or fraud. That’s why it’s crucial to monitor your credit so that you can find these issues and try to resolve them early on.
Third-party credit score services
You may have noticed there are other ways to get your score calculated, such as through an app on your phone. These services often use VantageScore or FICO models depending on which third-party credit site you’re using, but are not used nearly as widely. Still, these services or apps could offer you an idea of what your score is.
International credit scores
Keep in mind that these different types of credit scores discussed—VantageScore, FICO score and their different versions—only apply to U.S. residents. You can’t use these scores in other countries. For example, if you have a healthy credit score in the U.S., and you’re looking to buy a home in Canada, you won’t be able to apply for a loan using your U.S. credit score.
Countries outside the U.S. calculate credit scores differently and weigh other factors. The United Kingdom (U.K.) uses the same three major bureaus as the ones in the U.S. However, being a registered voter in the U.K. is a factor considered when calculating the score. In the U.S., this factor is not included and won’t affect your credit score.
Knowing which model calculates your credit score is one great step toward keeping track of your credit score’s health. Another way to maintain a healthy credit score is to monitor it. This includes activities like reviewing your credit card statements and reports or enrolling in a credit monitoring service, such as Chase’s credit monitoring services and alerts.