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A VantageScore® credit score is a three-digit number that provides you and lenders with a snapshot of your overall credit health. VantageScore scoring models use information in your credit reports to generate credit scores that illustrate the likelihood you'll pay your bills on time.
You may have seen your VantageScore delivered through personal finance-oriented websites or from your credit card issuer or bank. Here's what you need to know about how VantageScore works.
How Does the VantageScore Credit Model Work?
VantageScore was launched in 2006 as a joint venture by the three credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
The VantageScore credit score is influenced by six different factors. Here's what goes into the most recent version of the score, the VantageScore 4.0:
- Payment history (41%): On-time payments are the most important way to build and maintain good credit. The later a payment is—and the more late payments you have—the more your credit will suffer.
- Depth of the credit (20%): VantageScore looks at the average age of your credit accounts, along with your oldest and newest accounts. It also considers the types of credit you use, including both revolving and installment debt.
- Credit utilization (20%): VantageScore considers how much available credit you have and have and how much of it you're using. This VantageScore factor focuses on revolving credit, such as credit cards, but also includes installment loans.
- Recent credit (11%): Each time you apply for credit, the lender will typically run a hard inquiry on one or more of your credit reports, which can knock a few points off your score. New credit accounts you've opened will also be included in this factor. Keep in mind, however, that VantageScore combines all hard inquiries made in a 14-day period as a single inquiry for credit-scoring purposes.
- Balances (6%): This factor considers the total amount you owe on all of your credit accounts.
- Available credit (2%): VantageScore will consider the total available credit you have on revolving credit accounts. The more available credit you have, the better.
What Is a Good VantageScore?
The VantageScore credit score ranges from 300 to 850. If you have a score of 661 or higher, you have good credit based on VantageScore's credit models.
Keep in mind, though, that lenders have their own criteria for what they consider to be a good credit score, and they may also consider other factors, such as your income, debt-to-income ratio and more. As such, there's no guarantee that you'll qualify for a loan or credit card if you have good credit by VantageScore's standards.
Both the VantageScore credit score and the FICO® Score are designed to predict the statistical likelihood that a borrower will become delinquent on their financial obligations. Here are some of the similarities and differences between the two.
Score Range and Factors
Both the FICO® Score and the VantageScore credit score range from 300 to 850. Generally, the two credit scoring models consider the same factors. However, the two scoring models weigh those factors differently.
|Depth of credit
|Length of credit history
Number of Scores
VantageScore creates a single tri-bureau model that can be used with any of the three credit bureaus, while FICO has a separate, slightly different scoring model for each individual bureau.
Additionally, FICO provides industry-specific scoring models for auto lenders and credit card issuers—these scores range from 250 to 900.
To be eligible for a FICO® Score, you must have at least one credit account for a minimum of six months and activity on a credit account for at least six months—they don't need to be the same account.
In contrast, you can get a VantageScore credit score as long as you have at least one credit account on your credit reports; there's no requirement for how long you've had the account.
According to FICO, its score is used by 90% of top lenders. However, the VantageScore has gained ground since it was first released in 2006.
Why Your VantageScore Can Vary
Depending on where and when you find your VantageScore credit score, there may be differences in what you see. Here are a few reasons why that's the case.
- Varying data: Like any credit scoring model, your VantageScore credit score is based on information found in your credit reports. The data at each credit reporting company may be slightly different because not all financial institutions report to all three credit reporting agencies.
- Different versions: There are four versions of the VantageScore formula, and it's possible that some credit score providers could be using different versions. For example, the latest version—the VantageScore 4.0 model—was released in 2017, but many of the top providers still use the VantageScore 3.0 model.
- Recent credit activity: As with any other credit scoring model, the VantageScore provides a snapshot of your credit profile at the time the credit score was requested. If you recently paid down a large amount of debt, it may not be reported to your credit history until the next billing cycle. Only then will VantageScore, or any other credit scoring model, be calculated using your most up-to-date account balance.
Do Lenders Use VantageScore?
While the VantageScore credit score may not be used as widely as the FICO® Score, its list of lenders is growing. For example, Synchrony Bank, which claims to be the largest issuer of store credit cards, uses the VantageScore 4.0 model to evaluate card applications.
What's more, the Federal Housing Finance Agency now requires mortgage lenders to use both a FICO® Score and a VantageScore credit score for all loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. According to the National Association of Realtors, that includes roughly 70% of all mortgage loans.
How to Improve Your Credit Score
While the VantageScore credit score differs from other credit scoring models, they're all designed to do the same thing. As a result, the same behavior required to improve your FICO® Score will also help increase your VantageScore credit score.
Here are steps you can take to improve your credit:
- Pay your bills on time. Make it a priority to always pay your bills on time. If you miss a debt payment by 30 days or more, it could damage your credit. If you have past-due payments, try to get caught up as quickly as possible to avoid further damage.
- Keep your credit card balances low. VantageScore recommends keeping your credit utilization rate on credit cards below 30%, but the lower it is, the better.
- Avoid frequent credit applications. Applying for and opening several new credit accounts in a short period can damage your credit. Make it a goal to avoid unnecessary credit applications and to space out the necessary ones by six months or more.
- Avoid taking on too much debt. The more debt you have, the harder it can be to stay on top of your payments. Before you apply for credit, make sure you can comfortably afford the new payment along with your other financial obligations.
- Keep old credit cards open. Older credit accounts give lenders more information about your history of managing your credit well. They also help you maintain a higher total credit limit and longer credit history, both of which can help your scores. Unless an old credit card poses a threat to your financial well-being, consider keeping it open.
Monitor Your Credit Regularly
One of the best ways to build and maintain good credit is to regularly review your credit profile. With Experian's free credit monitoring, you'll get access to your Experian credit report and FICO® Score powered by Experian data.
These resources will give you the information you need to determine how to increase your credit score. You'll also get real-time alerts when changes are made to your credit report, making it easier to stay on top of new developments and address issues like identity theft promptly.