What is a FICO® Score?
FICO® Scores are the most widely used credit scores—according to a May 2015 CEB TowerGroup analyst report, FICO® Scores are used in over 90% of U.S. lending decisions.1
FICO® Scores have been an industry standard for over 25 years. Lenders use FICO® Scores to get a fast, objective and reliable measure of credit risk, which makes the lending process faster and fairer for people like you. Because FICO® Scores are the most widely used credit scores, viewing your FICO® Scores gives you a more accurate look at how lenders will evaluate your credit when you apply for a loan or credit.
You have more than one FICO® Score
Different lenders use different versions of FICO® Scores when evaluating your credit. Auto lenders, for instance, often use FICO® Auto Scores, an industry-specific FICO® Score version that’s been tailored to their needs. What does that mean for you? You can get an even more precise understanding of how lenders will evaluate your credit by accessing the exact FICO® Score version your lender is likely using. The most widely used FICO® Score versions are available directly to consumers like you. And wherever you access your FICO® Scores—whether it’s from myFICO.com, your bank or any other authorized FICO® Score retailer—it’s required that the specific version of the score you’re viewing is clearly shown to you. So whether you’re applying for a mortgage, an auto loan or a credit card, you can view the right FICO® Score for the type of credit you’re seeking. There’s simply no substitute for knowing your exact FICO® Score versions.
What about those non-FICO credit scores some sites offer?
Many credit scores have been designed to look similar to FICO® Scores, but the mathematical formulas used by each scoring company are unique. As a result, these formulas create credit scores for the same consumers that are often significantly different from their FICO® Scores—sometimes by 100 points or more.
Consumers are frequently surprised to learn that their non-FICO credit scores may rarely, if ever, be used by lenders.
Unlike FICO® Scores, which are used in over 90% of lending decisions, non-FICO credit scores may rarely, if ever, be used by lenders when they are deciding whether to approve you for a loan or credit or set the loan terms. Because non-FICO scores use different scoring formulas, have widely varying score ranges and are seldom used in lending decisions, they may not give you an accurate measure of your credit risk compared to how a lender will see you.
Why you need to know the difference
When you see your FICO® Scores, you can be more confident that you’re seeing a score lenders actually use.
- Used in over 90% of lending decisions
- Make lending decisions faster and fairer
- An industry standard for over 25 years
- Give you a better understanding of your credit health
Non-FICO credit scores
Non-FICO credit scores can give you an inaccurate impression of how your lender views your credit standing.
- May rarely be used, if ever, in lending decisions
- Can make you underestimate your creditworthiness
- Can mislead you into thinking you qualify for credit
- Can be drastically different than your FICO® Scores
Your FICO® Scores may even be significantly higher than your non-FICO credit scores.
This could lead you to underestimate your creditworthiness. You might forego a valuable mortgage refinancing, skip an excellent credit offer or delay a home or car purchase—all because your non-FICO credit scores may give you an inaccurate impression of how your lender views your credit standing.
“For years, there has been a lot of confusion among consumers over which credit scores matter. While there are many types of credit scores, FICO Scores matter the most because the majority of lenders use these scores to decide whether to approve loan applicants and at what interest rates.”
– The Wall Street Journal3
A recent Consumers Union report explains how “score discrepancies can give consumers the false hope that they qualify for credit or low interest rates when they do not. Consumers can face higher interest rates than expected, or be denied credit.” 4 Differences between your FICO® Scores and your non-FICO credit scores—even if they’re minor differences—can have major consequences. They can affect your chances of getting approved when you apply for credit or a loan, or they can impact the terms and rates of the credit you are approved for.
Even minor differences in your scores can have major consequences.
- CEB TowerGroup. (May 2015). Analyst report. © 2015 The Corporate Executive Board Company. All rights reserved.
- BAV Consulting survey (BrandAsset® Valuator). (September 2015). Visit www.bavconsulting.com. All Rights Reserved.
- The Wall Street Journal. (Aug 2015). American Express Unveils FICO Scores for Cardholders.
- Consumers Union. (April 2014). ERRORS & GOTCHAS: How Credit Report Errors and Unreliable Credit Scores Hurt Consumers, 24.