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FICO vs. VantageScore credit scores: What’s the difference?

FICO and VantageScore are popular credit scoring models that determine their scores differently


Both FICO and VantageScore can be used to tell a creditor how creditworthy someone is, but how they determine credit scores differs.

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If you recently applied for a new credit card or other kind of consumer loan from a major bank or credit union, there’s a good chance the lender viewed your FICO® Score – and maybe even shared it with you when you applied.

Most top credit card issuers offer free score information to customers, too. Some, such as Discover, are even more generous, offering free scores to anyone willing to supply their information. While Discover offers free FICO Scores to the general public, some educational sites and card issuers offer VantageScore information.

But what is the difference between the versions? Here’s a closer look at the most widely used consumer credit scores, how lenders use them and what makes them different from one another.

What are the similarities between FICO Score and VantageScore?

Both the FICO Score and VantageScore have some key similarities, outlined below:

Factors that go into calculating your score

FICO Score and VantageScore each take the same information into account to determine a credit score, and each tends to place a similar amount of importance on the following information:

  • Payment history
  • Credit usage
  • Length of credit history
  • Types of accounts
  • Recent activity

Score ranges

No matter which credit scoring model we’re talking about, higher is better. The higher your score, the more creditworthy a lender will consider you. Both the base FICO Score and the latest VantageScore 4.0 model range from 300 to 850.

What scores predict

Both credit scoring models aim to predict the same thing – how much of a credit risk someone is. Your credit habits generally impact both credit scoring models in the same way. Making on-time payments, keeping your credit utilization low and generally taking steps to improve your credit score should keep your score healthy regardless of which model the lender uses.

What are the differences between FICO Score and VantageScore?

Now let’s focus on the differences between these two scoring models:

Minimum scoring requirements

Both FICO Score and VantageScore have different minimum scoring requirements. In order to get a FICO Score, you must have a credit account open for at least six months and have activity on a credit account (it can be the same account or a different one) in the last six months. As long as your credit report has at least one account showing in it, however, you can qualify for VantageScore scoring even if that account has been open for less than six months.

Credit score versions matter

Newer versions of your credit score may also look different from older versions of the same score due to revisions in the way the companies calculate them. For example, a newer version of your credit score may treat a recent late payment with more weight than an older version.

As a result, the parts of your credit history that count most toward the success of your application will not only depend on the type of credit score a lender uses – it may also depend on the version of that score.

For example, FICO Score 9, released in 2014, differs from every other prior FICO Score version because it doesn’t weigh in collection accounts that you’ve paid off, and it places less importance on medical collection accounts. Additionally, unlike older FICO Score versions, it also considers rent payments.

FICO Score 10, released in 2020, is the first FICO scoring model to incorporate trended data, and the UltraFICO Score is the first to consider your bank transactions and the consistent amount of cash you typically have available.

VantageScore 3.0 – which is still in circulation – places more weight on your overall payment history than on any other component of your score. But the newer VantageScore 4.0 model expands from prior versions by placing significantly more weight on your total credit usage and debt-to-credit ratio than on your payment history – and it also gives less weight to medical collections and ignores new collection accounts that are younger than six months.

Lenders use different credit scoring models

The credit scoring model your prospective lender uses will vary: Some go with FICO Score and some choose VantageScore.

There’s a good chance that your lender is using some version of a FICO Score, however, since 90% of lenders use it according to the FICO website. Lenders have trusted it for decades – it’s an independent data analytics company, meaning it’s not a credit bureau, and it’s not controlled or owned by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).

Bottom line

There’s no such thing as a universal score. The truth is you have many different credit scores – including those from the same scoring developer.

But despite the differences among scoring models, the basic components of maintaining a good credit score remain the same: Pay your bills on time, limit your credit usage, don’t close your oldest revolving account and don’t go wild applying for a whole bunch of credit at one time.

Follow these basic rules of thumb and you should be able to build a credit score that you’re proud to show off to any lender.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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