Credit Scores: Understanding the Credit Score Range

credit scoresLenders use many different types of credit scores, and as a result each may have their own credit score range. This is important to understand not only because of where you are on that scale, but whether you are using the same criteria as the lender is.

Credit Score Ranges Used by the Major Scoring Models

There are six major scoring models used, and consequently they have a wide variety of ranges. In each of these models a higher number equates to a lower credit risk.

  • FICO Score range: 300-850
  • VantageScore 3.0 range: 300–850
  • VantageScore scale (versions 1.0 and 2.0): 501–990
  • Experian’s PLUS Score: 330-830
  • TransUnion New Account Score 2.0: 300-850
  • Equifax Credit Score: 280–850

Generally speaking, a “FICO” score has been considered the “official” score that most lenders use. This has been changing in recent years, however, as more and more so-called “FAKO” scores have become available to consumers.

FAKO scores are still considered mostly educational, however, and should not be relied on as a hard-and-fast number. A good piece of advice is to contact a potential lender before hand, and find out 1) which credit bureau they use; and 2) which scoring model they rely on.

Getting Good Credit Scores

You can attain a good (or great) credit score by focusing in on the 5 main factors that these models use. Each factor may have a different weight on your overall score, and they are broken down as follows:

  • Payment History (35% of your score)
  • Credit Utilization (30% of your score)
  • Length of Credit History (15% of your score)
  • Mix of Accounts (10% of your score)
  • New Credit Inquiries (10% of your score)

If you’re looking for an immediate impact to your score, lower your credit utilization below 30% – and below 10% if you can. Creditors LOVE to see a low utilization number, and this will offset some of the factors that have a lesser weight, such as inquiries, account mix, and length of credit history. ♦