Having a good credit score is essential. But did you know you can have more than one credit score?
Read more: Best Secured Credit Cards
What is VantageScore?
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion created VantageScore to establish more uniformity in credit ratings and to enable consumers with less credit history -- like college students or new immigrants -- to still have a credit score.
According to TransUnion, up to 30 million previously unscorable consumers have been able to be graded with VantageScore.
The system has been updated several times since its debut. The most recent edition is VantageScore 4.0, released in 2017, but the previous version -- VantageScore 3.0, from 2013 -- remains the most popular.
While all three credit agencies use the same formula to determine your VantageScore, they base it on their reported information, which may differ somewhat from bureau to bureau.
“Because your credit files often differ between reporting agencies, your VantageScore 3.0 may look slightly different from one credit reporting agency to another,” according to Equifax.
What’s the difference between VantageScore and FICO?
FICO credit scores date to 1956, when the Fair Isaac Corporation began assessing consumer credit risk.
Each of the three main credit bureaus uses the FICO algorithm differently to calculate their own FICO Scores.
To get a FICO Score, you must have at least one account that’s at least six months old and one account that’s been reported to the credit agencies within the past six months.
A VantageScore, meanwhile, can be calculated for someone with a single account that’s only a month old and an account that reported data to the bureaus any time in the past two years.
VantageScore says its credit analysis is based on more granular data than FICO and is more stable through changes in the market and consumer spending habits.
VantageScore also mantains a website that deciphers reason codes, so consumers can find out why they received a certain score.
How is your VantageScore determined?
FICO and VantageScore use the same basic info to calculate your credit score, but the two services factor the data somewhat differently.
How FICO ranks
|Length of credit history
|Types of accounts
How VantageScore 3.0 ranks
|Depth of credit
How VantageScore 4.0 ranks
|Depth of credit
Hard credit checks hurt your credit score for both FICO and VantageScore, but the two scores treat multiple inquiries in a given period differently. VantageScore considers all credit inquiries within a two-week period as a single inquiry.
Both FICO Scores and VantageScores are rated on a range from 300 to 850. Anything between 670 and 739 is considered a good FICO score, while VantageScore defines a good score as between 661 and 780. You’ll need a score of 800 to be considered to have “exceptional” credit by FICO, but only 781 from VantageScore.
Credit bureaus no longer report medical debt under $500, but larger collections may still impact your FICO Score. VantageScore, however, has removed medical collections entirely from the data it uses to determine a credit score.
Who uses VantageScore?
VantageScore says that more than 2,600 US financial institutions use its credit scores, including nine of the 10 largest banks.
Between 2021 and 2022, roughly 14.5 billion VantageScores were issued. Shopping sites made up the largest percentage, accounting for a third of all clients. Credit card companies, personal and installment loan lenders, tenant screeners, utilities and government entities also use VantageScore.
FICO score is still far more commonly used in credit decisions, however, reportedly 90% of the time.
How do I find out my VantageScore?
How can I improve my VantageScore?
VantageScore and FICO weigh certain behaviors differently. So if you’re specifically aiming to raise your VantageScore, it’s worth focusing on certain steps.
Read more: How to Raise Your Credit Score
Pay bills on time. Since your payment history represents at least 40% of your VantageScore, making payments promptly is the best way to improve your score. If you have the funds, set up autopay for your credit cards, and you’ll never even have to think about it.
Don’t use too much of your available credit. Your credit utilization is the ratio of how much credit you are using compared to your total available credit. Ideally, you want to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%, so if your credit card has a $5,000 limit, keep the balance below $1,500.
Keep old credit card accounts open. Any account in good standing adds to the length of your credit history and your total amount of available credit, even if you’re not currently using it. Make small purchases occasionally in order to keep the card from being closed for inactivity.
Editors’ note: An earlier version of this article was assisted by an AI engine. This version has been substantially updated by a staff writer.
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