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Types of Credit Scores
24 Jul 2018

The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Credit Scores

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A good credit score is an essential part of a healthy financial life. You probably already know that you need to either build or maintain good credit in order to take steps like buying a car, getting approved for a mortgage, or even just opening a credit card.

Hopefully, you’re already familiar with your credit score. But did you know that there are several different types of credit scores?

Although most marketing campaigns tell people that they only have one, definitive credit score, that’s actually not true. You actually have dozens of scoresfloating around out there.

Curious? Read on to find out more about the different types of credit scores.

What Are The Different Types Of Credit Scores?

Most people think that there are three different credit scores because there are three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. In a way, they’re right. There are three main types of credit scores, but those types are broken down into even more specific numbers.

If you pulled your credit score from each one of the bureaus mentioned above, you might get a different score each time. However, while they may be calculating your score differently, they’re all using VantageScore software.

When you pull a free credit card report, you’re usually getting a score created by VantageScore. This model was created in part to compete with FICO, which the vast majority of credit lenders use.

Your FICO score, created by the Fair Isaac Corporation in 1989, is the main credit score that most people think of. There are also different types of FICO scores, which we’ll get to later.

Finally, you can get a proprietary score, which isn’t used by lenders and is usually meant to help educate the consumer.

Let’s break these down.

FICO Score

Your FICO score is arguably the most important one since it’s the one most widely used by lenders. According to FICO, more than 90% of lenders use their score.

So how does it work?

Base FICO scores range from 300 to 850, which is likely the range that you’re most familiar with. Those scores are broken down into the following ranges:

  • 800+: Exceptional
  • 740-799: Very Good
  • 670-739: Good
  • 580-669: Fair
  • 579 and lower: Poor

If you have exceptional or very good credit, your score is above the national average and you’re considered low risk. You probably won’t have any issues applying for a new line of credit.

People with scores below 669, on the other hand, are going to have difficulties because companies will interpret those numbers as high risk.

FICO determines your score based on factors like your payment history, how much you currently owe, how long you’ve been building your credit, and if you have any new credit.

This is your base FICO score, but there are also scores within FICO that are important to know.

Industry-Specific Scores

Your industry-specific scores evaluate your risk and creditworthiness based on a specific line of credit. These usually come into play when you’re applying for a car loan or credit card.

They operate differently than your base FICO score. Industry-specific scores have a wider range: 250 to 900 instead of 300 to 850.

Even though the range is different, you can still use the base score range to figure out what good credit is for these industry-specific scores.

Finally, you can also get a FICO mortgage score if you think that buying a house might be in your future.


VantageScore is much newer than FICO — it was created in 2006 by the three agencies we mentioned above: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

When it was first created, their score range was much different from FICO’s. Since they’re now trying to compete, however, their latest model has the same score range: 300 to 850.

A VantageScore might be kinder to you if you’re new to the credit building scene. To get a FICO score, you should have had a line of credit open for at least the past six months, as well as one account that’s been reported to one of those three credit bureaus.

A VantageScore, on the other hand, can potentially create a score for you even if you only have a month or so of credit history as long as you’ve had an account reported within the last twenty-four months.

This is likely because unlike FICO, VantageScore will also take recurring payments like your rent into account.

To calculate your score, VantageScore looks at these factors:

  • Your payment history and how often you pay on time
  • How old you are and what lines of credit you have open
  • The percentage of your credit limit that you use
  • Your credit card balance and debt
  • If there have been recent inquiries about your credit
  • Your current available credit

Most importantly, you can get your VantageScore for free. You would have to pay to access your FICO score.

Proprietary Scores

The two models that lenders are most likely to use are FICO and VantageScore. However, when you go to pull your free credit score online, you also might see another number from the bureau you’re using. What gives?

This is likely your proprietary score, or educational score. It’s not actually used by lenders and is only there to help you educate yourself about where you stand with credit.

Companies like Experian and Equifax both have proprietary scores that operate on different scales from FICO and VantageScore. Be careful, though — these numbers don’t have any bearing on the credit you can be approved for, and it also might cost money to access them.

Put Your Knowledge To Good Use

Now that you know what the major types of credit scores are, you’re prepared to be a more informed consumer. Make sure that you keep knowledge like this in mind the next time you check your credit score or apply for a loan.

No matter what kind of credit you have, Bonsai Finance can help you find the loan or credit card that’s right for you. We will help you find a lender or loan with preferred rates that work with your financial situation.

Interested? Find out more about how Bonsai Finance can help you improve your personal finance.