You get your credit reports and the score listed on that particular website. It shows that your credit isn’t as bad as you though it was! So you and your spouse, kids in tow, head on down to the auto dealer or the home show. You walk into the lending office with the confidence of Donald Trump about to close a deal, when the finance office pulls your credit (and you know it’s not a good thing when many minutes tick by), the loan officer comes into the waiting room and utters the following agonizing words: “Um, there is a problem with your credit.” You’re wondering, how could this be? We just pulled our credit and it shows that we had good credit.
Here’s The Problem
Ever since Bill Fair and Earl Isaac teamed up in 1956 creating the Fair Isaac Company (FICO) to create a more streamline method of determining “credit worthiness”, banking and credit reporting companies wanted in on the profits that FICO was creating. Because the FICO credit scoring algorithm is patented and proprietary, other companies that wanted to get in on the credit scoring business couldn’t use the FICO method of scoring. They had to come up with their own scoring models. Every scoring model in use is based off of the same raw credit report data that is gathered from the three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The difference comes in how that raw data is “weighed” in order to generate a “credit score”, thus creating the problem in the above family scenario: the website the family went to showed one credit score, while the finance company showed an entirely different score- all based on the exact same credit report information. The following chart show how the different scoring models relate to each other:
Grade FICO Score VantageScore PLUS Score TransUnion Score CreditXpert Score
A 750-850 901-990 740-830 845-925 800-900
B 700-749 801-900 695-739 765-844 740-799
C 650-699 701-800 655-694 685-764 670-739
D 600-649 601-700 590-654 605-684 611-669
F 300-599 501-600 300-589 150-604 300-609
So What Is My ACTUAL Credit Score?
There is no such thing as an “actual” credit score. A credit score is just that particular scoring company’s analysis of your credit. It’s no better or worse than any other credit scoring model. FICO has become the industry standard because they invented the idea of credit scoring and were first to market it to the lending world.
The question you need to go into the finance office with is: “What credit scoring model do you use? And which credit bureaus do you look at?” With any scoring model, you will have three separate credit scores. You will have an Experian score, Equifax score and a TransUnion score. They will all be different from each other because not all lenders report equally to all three credit bureaus.
If the lender can tell you in advance which credit scoring model they are looking at and which credit bureaus they will watch, this can give you a great advantage prior to stepping into their office. This will give you time to purchase the reports and the scores they will be looking at to get an idea of what they will see before you even arrive.
Can I Get A Free Credit Score?
As of this publication, you are not able to get a free credit score; there has been proposed legislation to change that. You are able to get a free credit report every 12 months from the three credit bureaus from www.annualcreditreport.com.