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VantageScore credit score product combines three scores into one

(Editor’s note: While accurate when published, this story has become outdated. See updated story, “What VantageScores are, how they work“)

The Credit Guy columnist Todd Ossenfort

Todd Ossenfort has been chief operating officer for Pioneer Credit Counseling since 1998. He writes our weekly “The Credit Guy” column, answering reader questions about credit counseling and debt issues.

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Question for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Credit Guy,
How can I get a credit report from VantageScore? Can I really trust in this credit report? — Diego

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Diego,
VantageScore is actually a credit score product not a credit report. VantageScore was launched in March 2006 and is a joint venture between the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Consumers can purchase their VantageScores from Experian and from TransUnion via www.annualcreditreport.com.*

Like the FICO score, VantageScore uses the information contained in your credit reports from each of the three credit reporting companies and calculates it into a three digit score. The model used to formulate your credit score is different from the FICO scoring model. VantageScores range from 501 to 990 with the higher score representing the lowest risk to the creditor.

Several factors influence your VantageScore and they are:
Payment history32 percent
Credit utilization23 percent
Credit balances15 percent
Depth of credit13 percent
Recent credit10 percent
Available credit7 percent

The VantageScore is calculated primarily on the past 24 month’s activity on your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus. The VantageScore model does not take authorized user accounts into consideration when calculating your score, whether they are in good standing or not. In addition, because the same method is used to formulate your score by each of the three bureaus, your score will have less variation between the three reporting companies. The difference in scores you might experience between the bureaus might be because your information is not reported exactly the same at each bureau. The reason being because most, but not all creditors report account activity to all three bureaus.

Yes, you can trust the folks at VantageScore. However, please remember that the VantageScore is calculated based on the accuracy of the information in your credit file, so if there is erroneous information reported, both the VantageScore and the FICO score will not be accurate. You might want to go to www.annualcreditreport.com and get free copies of your credit reports from each of the three bureaus before you purchase your credit score.

Your keys to getting into the 700-plus credit score club

Having a solid credit history with a credit score over 700 will open doors to money-saving opportunities — from low-interest mortgages and loans to lower APR credit cards, better insurance rates and even jobs. Here are a slew of tips that can help get you and keep you in the get and keep a great credit score.

Carefully review your reports and dispute in writing any inaccurate information with the bureau that reported it. Once you have your credit reports in the best shape possible, then you should purchase your score.

If you are researching your score to determine what terms you can expect from a potential lender, which I highly recommend, it would be best to know which credit score your lender uses. Many use the FICO score and if your lender is using that score, I’d purchase your FICO score so you know what your lender is seeing.

Take care of your credit!

*As originally published, the article incorrectly characterized how consumers could obtain VantageScores. See corrections policy

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