Credit Score Types and Score Ranges
When we talk about credit score, we usually refer to the FICO score developed by Fair Isaac. FICO score, which can be purchased at myFICO.com, is widely used by lenders to evaluate a borrower’s credit worthiness before making the decision when he or she applies for a credit card, open a bank account, or even rent an apartment.
While FICO score is the standard credit score that we use most often, it isn’t the only credit score available. If you are buying a score from one of the credit reporting agencies or getting one through a free service, chances are the score, dubbed FAKO score, you get is something that is proprietarily developed by one of the agencies. This is particularly the case when the score if offered for free. For example, the free credit score offered by Credit Karma is TransUnion’s TransRisk score (Credit Karma now also offers VantageScore), not a FICO score. So what are other different scores and what are their ranges, as compared to FICO’s 300 and 850? Following are a few FAKO scores I have used in the past.
TransUnion TransRisk Score
TransRisk is a consumer credit score that’s developed by TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. TransRisk score simulates FICO score, but it isn’t a FICO score of course. The score has a range from 300 to 850, the same as the range of the FICO score. If you sign up for Credit Karma (which is also free), you can get TransRisk score for free. It’s also available for free when you enroll in TrueCredit credit monitoring service from TransUnion. The cost is $14.95 per month.
Experian Score PLUS
A couple of years ago, Experian decided to pull out its agreement with Fair Isaac and stop providing FICO score to its customers. Right now, one of the scores you can get from Experian is its own Score PLUS (American Express credit card holders can access their Score PLUS for free once a year). Score PLUS has a score range from 330 to 830, a little tighter than FICO score’s range. Credit Sesame is offering Experian Score for free to its customers. The score is included in the Experian’s Triple Advantage service ($14.95 per month).
Equifax Beacon Score
According to Equifax, Beacon Score is “calculated when the Fair Isaac model is applied to the Equifax credit file.” And like FICO score, Beacon score ranges from 300 to 850. Since Beacon score is developed by Equifax, you can get purchase the score directly from Equifax. It’s available to yo if you join the Equifax Score Power service, a credit monitoring service. The cost for Score Power $15.95 per month.
VantageScore is jointly developed by TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax as an alternative of the FICO score. VantageScore ranges from 501 to 990, even though it uses the same underlying credit information as FICO score, and the score is divided into five grades, from “A” to “F” which “A” being the best. VantageScore is available from TransUnion, Experian, and Credit Karma.
Are FAKO Scores Useful?
All the FAKO scores mentioned above are not as authoritative as FICO score, even though some are calculated using the FICO model. When you apply for credit, the creditor will base on your FICO score to make a decision. So in this sense, a FAKO score is not as useful as the FICO score. Thus, knowing your FICO score is important. However, that doesn’t make FAKO scores are entirely useless. We don’t know exactly what the formula behind each score is, but it’s hard to imagine that any significant event, such as a new account or a missed payment, gets considered in one score calculation but not the other. Therefore, we can still have a good idea of how our FICO scores may move by looking at the trend of a FAKO score. That’s how I use free scores from Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.
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