Credit scores are a tool used by lenders to help determine your creditworthiness. You’ve likely heard about FICO scores, but did you know that there are other credit scoring models available? In fact, depending on which model a lender chooses to use, your scores can fluctuate from one application to the next. For this reason, understanding and mastering the differences between the top scoring models could help you improve your credit across the board. Here is what some of the common options may look for when calculating your scores.


Fair Isaac Corporation’s FICO score is by far the most familiar scoring model. It delivers a  3-digit number between 300 and 850, with 850 being the best, to help lenders determine whether you’re a desirable candidate to loan money to or provide services for. As with most credit scoring models, the higher your FICO score, the more likely it may be for you to qualify for a new line of credit. While the exact category descriptions and percentages below are unique to FICO, each of these factors will likely play a role in calculating your credit score with any model.

Payment History

Payment history is largest category in most credit scoring models. In FICO’s version, payment history accounts for 35% of you overall score and is determined by how timely you pay your bills, how late your payments are, and whether or not you have any foreclosures, lawsuits, or bankruptcies on record.

Amount Owed

Amount owed is worth 30% of your FICO score and refers to how well you manage and pay off debt. Credit utilization is major part of this category. For best score results, a credit utilization ratio at or under 30 percent of your available credit limit is recommended.

Length of Credit History

This category looks at how long you’ve been reasonably using credit. For example, have been using the same credit card for 20 years or did you just open your first card last month? Generally speaking, the longer you’ve been successfully using credit, the better. Altogether, this category is worth 15% of your FICO score.

Credit Mix

Credit mix considers how well you manage various types of credit and accounts for about 10% of your FICO score. Ideally, a healthy mix of items like a mortgage, auto loans, and/or credit cards is recommended.

New Credit

New credit is worth 10% of your FICO score and looks at how often you are applying for items such as a loan or new credit card. To help maintain good credit, it’s wise to space out loans and new credit applications over a long period of time rather than applying for several all at once.

At a glance, here is a look at how a general FICO scoring model may look.

Versions of FICO

There are dozens of FICO versions which vary depending on who is requesting the credit score, such as a bank or car dealer.  The type of loan you are getting may also be a factor. In addition, FICO releases updated credit scoring models periodically. However, lenders can choose to stick to their current versions. Thus, different lenders might be using an older version of FICO like FICO 5 or the most current version (FICO 9).


Developed by the three credit reporting bureaus, the VantageScore model considers similar factors as FICO but weighs them slightly different. Below is an example the categories and percentage estimates you might see in a VantageScore model.

VantageScore also looks at trends over time. For instance, are you making minimum payments or are you actively paying down debt? ScoreShuttle and various financial institutions offer free credit scoring data, often using VantageScore 3.0, to give consumers a general idea of where they stand. This information can also help determine whether or not improvements need to be made. To access your free VantageScore 3.0 credit report and score, click below.

Less Common Credit Scoring Models 

While FICO and VantageScore remain the top credit scoring models on the market, you may occasionally run across some of the following less common options.

  • TransRisk – Based on TransUnion data, this specialized credit scoring model is used to determine a borrower’s risk on new, rather than existing accounts.
  • CE Credit Score – Created by CE Analytics, the CE credit score is a free credit scoring equivalency service used by a variety of financial and lending platforms.
  • Credit Xpert Credit Score – Credit Xpert simulates Equifax credit scores, using data found in Equifax credit reports.
  • Experian National Equivalency Score – Similar to a traditional FICO model, scores can range between 360 to 840, with 840 being the best. Alternatively, it has a seperate scoring method of 0-1000 used to demonstrate the risk of delinquency. Under this method, a score of 100 would reflect a 10 percent chance of delinquency over the next two years. Meanwhile, a score of 500, would indicate a 50% chance of delinquency.

As a borrower, you unfortunately don’t get a choice as to which credit scoring model will be used by your lender. However, you can take steps to better your credit with all models by demonstrating responsible financial activity.  For example, checking your credit report for errors and paying your bills on time are great ways to improve your credit health.


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