Hopefully you’re familiar with what many consider the gold standard of credit scores, FICO. Perhaps you even know about the alternative VantageScore.
But it turns out those are just two of who-knows-how-many credit scores lenders might use to gauge your creditworthiness — or even to decide how much interest to charge you. According to a new CNN Money report:
It’s not that easy to figure out exactly what score a lender is using, because you have more than just one. A lot more.
Rod Griffin, director of public education at the credit reporting agency Experian, estimates that consumers can have hundreds of credit scores.
CNN reports that reasons for this include that:
- There are actually 19 different types of FICO scores, although the one known as FICO Score 8 is most commonly used.
- Each of the three national credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — uses different information and scoring methods to build its own credit report on you.
- Some lenders have their own version of your credit score, either because a scoring company like FICO created a customized score for the lender or because some lenders have their own credit scoring methods.
So what’s a consumer to do when it’s essentially impossible to know which of your credit scores a lender might examine? The best thing you can do is stay on top of your credit. If your financial behavior is sound, your credit score will reflect that — regardless of which score a lender examines.
Here are two steps to keeping your credit strong:
1. Learn what you can about your credit
Websites like Credit Sesame provide free credit scores and credit reporting analysis. The three national credit bureaus are required to provide you with one free credit report each year, which you can obtain at annualcreditreport.com
For more ways to get your score for free, check out “Ask Stacy: Where Can I Get a Free Credit Score?”
2. Do what you can to bolster your credit
Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson breaks this down in “How to Get a Perfect 850 FICO Credit Score Automatically.”
You might struggle to implement some of Stacy’s guidelines if you’re already carrying debt, though. If that’s the case, check out the Money Talks News Solutions Center, where you can find help with:
What do you make of the news that you could have hundreds of credit scores? Sound off below or on Facebook.