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, 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.

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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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6 Responses to “Credit Score Types and Score Ranges”

  1. Susan |  May 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Just wanted to point out a typo in your post title. It should be “Ranges” not “Rages”. When I first saw the title, I figured you were going to talk about someone who went into “score rage” when they saw their score (kinda like road rage)


  2. noname |  May 14, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    How about Equifax? Article does not have Equifax’s products.

  3. Credit Repair Services |  May 15, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Equifax uses the FICO scoring model.

  4. Sun |  May 15, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    @Susan Thanks for pointing out the typo. Apparently I ignored the title when doing spelling check :)

    @noname As far as I know, Equifax gives FICO score in all its products. I don’t know whether it has its own score like others or not and I searched quite a lot, but didn’t find any mention of Equifax’s own credit score.

  5. Chris |  May 18, 2010 at 1:36 am

    “I’ve been making all my payments diligently and on time; why has my credit score still gone down since I last checked it?”

    This is becoming a typical question nowadays. A lot of people don’t realize that the only way your credit score can go down is if the information that appear on your report reflect substantial changes.
    First let me tell you that the only way your credit scores can go down is if information appearing on your credit reports changes. These changes are documented on your credit report regularly – sometimes even daily. Here is where your credit score come from:

    • From creditors you have accounts with
    • From lenders, when you apply for new credit
    • From public information, such as tax liens, judgments, bankruptcy, etc.
    Following are the things that can effect changes on your scores:
    • Consistent and constant late payments
    • Increased or reduced credit limits
    • Higher credit card balances
    • Higher HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) balance
    • Closing revolving accounts
    • Recent credit inquiries made
    In the same way, any new practice you start in managing your credit takes effect and influence your credit scores within 30 to 60 days; due to the lag time between the action you take against the period it takes the creditor to report the action to the agencies who handle credit reports.

    Hence, if you’re serious about doing something to fix any negative aspect of your credit report, now – today – is the best time to execute new habits.

  6. equifax |  Feb 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers