Why Are All My FICO Scores From the Credit Bureaus Different?


Most people, when they first start looking into their credit history, find that their credit scores from the 3 major credit bureaus are different from one another. This has become a considerable source of confusion with many consumers who were led to believe there to be only one FICO score.  The difference in scores has led to concern over whether or not the disparity will affect a person’s ability to get credit.

In a moment, we’ll take a look at exactly how and why your FICO scores from the major bureaus can vary greatly from each other and if the discrepancies will affect your creditworthiness.  But first, let’s get a quick background into the most commonly used credit scoring model and the major credit bureaus.

The Major Players Behind Your Credit Score(s)

You should know that all 3 of the major credit reporting agencies use the most popular credit scoring system on the market today called FICO, named after the Fair Isaac Corporation.  The 3 major bureaus in the U.S. are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  And each credit bureau or CRA (credit reporting agency) has a unique way of using the FICO model that can vary or skew your credit score, as you’ll see later on.

The Credit Bureaus May Have Different Information About You

The first and most common reason your credit scores are different is simply because each credit bureau has differing information on you.  This usually occurs when your creditors only report your data to one or two of the major bureaus.  If a lender only reports your information to Equifax, for example, then  Equifax will calculate a score much different than TransUnion or Experian.

Your FICO Score Constantly Changes

As time goes on, new credit reporting data is always being added to, removed from, or changed in your credit report. So, it only stands to reason that your FICO scores, which uses the current information and history in your credit file to determine creditworthiness, will always be fluctuating, too.

The Credit Bureaus Have Other Scoring Models They Use

Although the major credit bureaus have all adopted FICO as their primary scoring model, each uses it in a slightly altered way to create their own unique scoring models.  For example, Equifax uses their BEACON® score, Experian utilizes the Fair Isaac Risk Model, while TransUnion has the EMPIRICA® score.  And to complicate things even more, all three bureaus are now promoting a relatively new scoring system called VantageScore®.

Will Different FICO Scores Affect Your Ability to Get Credit?

As you can see, having different FICO scores from the credit bureaus is almost inevitable.  However, these scores are only one of the criteria lenders look at today.  In fact, some of the major lending institutions like credit card companies are developing their own credit scoring systems based on a variety of different in-house factors.  That makes single credit scores less likely to be the sole determination in getting credit.

Instead, make sure you focus your attention on managing your existing credit wisely and paying your bills on time every month.  These are the key indicators almost all lenders look for when deciding your creditworthiness.  The fact that your FICO scores from the credit bureaus are different from each other is a much less important issue.

This post was written by

jason – who has written posts on Budget Clowns.
Father of three and married to a lovely women. Always looking for ways to save money, and invest it properly for my children's future.

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