VantageScore vs FICO Score

The Major Differences Between FICO and VantageScore


The FICO and Vantage scores are 2 different scoring models used to measure your creditworthiness.  If you want to borrow or get a credit card, the credit will likely be checked through one of these 2 models.

FICO is the more dominant one since it’s used by the major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian.   If you apply for a credit card, it’s likely you would use the FICO score.   The score ranges from 300 to 850 or 250 to 900 depending on the type of FICO model. 

VantageScore Solutions, LLC, is a newcomer to the credit model scoring that came about in 2006.  The VantageScore competes with FICO and it was developed by the three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian.   (Yes, these agencies use both the FICO and VantageScore models!)  VantageScore claims that their score is more accurate in predicting the default chances on a loan.

FICO and Vantage Score Factors

Both scoring models use the same general criteria to calculate the score.  The difference between the two is the method that they collect this type of data and calculate the scores.

FICO breaks down the factor and influence this way:

  • Payment History – 35%
  • Types of Credit – 10%
  • Credit Usage – 30%
  • Recent Inquires – 10%
  • Length of Credit – 15%

VantageScore 3.0, the latest version, is going to rank the categories slightly differently:

  • Payment History – 40%
  • Age and Type of Credit – 21%
  • % of Credit Limit Used –  20%
  • Total Balances/Debt – 11%
  • Available Credit – 3%
  • Recent credit and inquiries – 5%

As you can see the Vantage score has one more factor that’s not apparent in FICO score.

Late Payments

There’s one big difference between the two scoring models: late payments.  Late payments are treated very differently between the two models.

FICO treats all reporting of late payments equally.  If you’re late for two very different types of payments like credit cards and mortgage, they will have equal weight in determining your score. VantageScore, however, treats these two types of payments differently.  In fact, the late credit card payment would have a much lower weight than, say, mortgages.

So what’s the rationale for making mortgages more of a factor than, say, credit cards?  VantageScore believes that late payments for mortgages are more detrimental than a missed credit card payment.  Mortgages are important loans since they are likely your primary residence.  And a missed payment for a mortgage would likely signal a greater probability for default than one missed credit card payment. 

Think of times where there were emergencies for credit card use or times where it was easy to forget your credit card due date.  The VantageScore is a lot more forgiving in this matter than FICO.

Collection Companies

Both VantageScore and FICO penalize you if your loan or credit card debt goes to a collection agency.  One slight advantage of FICO is if the original loan amount was less than $100.  Also, if you’ve paid your balance in the collection account, it will ignore the collection account, though the original creditor would still be listed.

The VantageScore ignores any paid off collection accounts. 

Credit Inquiries

If you’ve opened up a credit card, it’s likely the card company did a hard inquiry against your credit.  The inquiry is a mark on your credit score that shows a company checked your credit.  Too many hard inquiries may be a sign that you’re taking on more risk.

Sometimes when you’re applying for a home or auto loan through a third party, your application can go through a number of companies seeking your service at the same time.   This might sound that you’ll be negatively hit on your score for too many inquiries.   

FICO and Vantage are aware of single-sourced sites that check your offers through many creditors.  FICO, for instance, will mark this as a single inquiry within a 45-day window.  VantageScore counts them as one inquiry within a 14-day window.

Who Uses FICO or VantageScore?

It might be hard to list all the companies that use the FICO or VantageScore.  The problem is that lenders or corporations can change the credit model company at will.  They might not even advertise which credit scoring model that they use.  You can certainly ask but they may not be compelled to answer your question.

There is, however, new interest in the VantageScore.  Some might argue that it’s more accurate and easier to understand.  FICO is countering with new products and I believe we’ll see some changes to the calculation of your score going forward.

Accuracy Is A Relative Term

With the various models out there, we now seeing varied scores that might seem that they’re all over the place.  Credit Karma has been often criticized that they’re incorrect since many users compare this score to FICO score.  Typically their score is higher and that gets some people to misunderstand the scoring system that’s being used.   

As such, you’ll notice that your credit score fluctuating depending on the agency, credit model, and the credit score provider.   I know, since I’ve seen my credit score anywhere from 750 to 825.  Checking your credit score among various providers is a wild ride.  I would recommend signing up for multiple free sites like Experian, Credit Karma and Citibank.  You’ll be able to see your score across many different channels and get a feel for your overall credit.


The differences between the FICO and VantageScore can be certainly large.  The VantageScore may seem to favor the consumer and FICO score may be the benchmark that a lot of users and corporations may rely on.  Because of the major differences, take the time to sign up for more than one free service so you can gauge your overall credit.  

What it all boils down to is making sure that your balances are paid on time and you don’t over apply for loans and credit cards.

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