Why Your Credit Score Is Different Than The Score Your Lender Sees

FICO isn’t the only credit score model. It’s simply the one lenders use when deciding whether to offer you credit.

It’s also not the one people usually receive when they ask for a copy of their own credit report. You get the same raw data, but you don’t get to see the same number that potential lenders see.

What makes this very tricky is that the majority of these other credit scores use the same or similar ranges as the FICO score, so it’s easy for the uninitiated to think they mean the same thing. They don’t, and this can be very dangerous in the long run.

Dangerous? Dangerous how, you might ask.

Because theses scores are not calculated the same way as FICO, an action that might improve your score in another system might actually lower your FICO score. This is a problem because the lender is seeing the FICO credit score, so if you’re going to raise one, that’s the one you need to increase.

Let’s look at these other scores and who offers them:

TransRisk™: 300-850

This is the credit score you normally get from TransUnion. Like FICO, it runs from 300 to 850, and also like FICO it’s offered for sale to lenders. They just don’t often use it. Lenders prefer to use FICO, which you can get from TransUnion; it’s just hard to find there. Try going to www.transunioncs.com for the FICO rather than TransRisk credit score.

PLUS Score ™: 330-830

This is the credit score Experian wants to sell you. It’s a consumer only score that’s marketed through several different websites under a number of different brands. Some even claim to be “Free.” The problem with this credit score is simple; it won’t help when it comes to understanding what lenders are seeing.

CreditXpert™: 350-850

This credit score is sold by both Intersections and PrivacyGuard, both companies which sell credit-monitoring both directly to the public and also through various corporate deals. You may be able to buy your CreditXpert credit score from your bank. Potential lenders aren’t going to be buying it from the credit bureaus, so it doesn’t matter when it comes to obtaining credit.

FICO™: 300-850

This credit score matters: potential lenders use FICO credit scores to make credit decisions. If you buy a credit score this is the only one worth the money.

The question that always leaps to mind when looking at these credit scores is why do they all use similar numbers to FICO? It’s possible to use any range of numbers when building a credit score system.

If a company wanted they could use as simple a rating as 1-10. Instead they use a number that outwardly resembles the one that lenders see, but is just a little different.

Why do you think these numbers all look like FICO? The simple reason is that they want to make more money.

They’re charging you extra to give you a score even though their score is worthless when applying for credit. They simply don’t want to pay FICO, so they make their scores look like a FICO score.

They know the average consumer doesn’t know any better. In fact, they’re counting on it.

Remember, if it’s not the credit score the lender’s seeing it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.

About The Author

Brian Diez

Brian Diez is a nationally recognized credit expert. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, Dow Jones' Market Watch and Credit.com.