FICO vs VantageScore: What You Need To Know About Credit Scores

FICO vs VantageScore: What You Need To Know About Credit Scores | The Loaded Pig

In order for us to continue providing great, free content, this post may contain affiliate links that we may earn a small commission on at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure.

Your credit score is used by many lenders in their approval process to determine if the person is likely to pay back the line of credit. The most popular credit scoring model is provided by FICO, Fair Isaac Corporation, and is used by about 90% of lenders. The second most common credit scoring model is by VantageScore. It’s important to know which credit scoring model is used by a lender when seeking a new line of credit as these models calculate credit scores differently.

FICO Credit Models

The first FICO credit scoring model was introduced to lenders in 1989. Every few years FICO changes the way they calculate credit scores as they come out with new models. They recently announced two new scoring models, the FICO 10 and FICO 10 T, which will be adopted by lenders in the next couple of years. Learn more about the new FICO credit score changes and how to be prepared.

What didn’t change with these new credit scores is the 5 main factors used to determine FICO credit scores:

FICO Credit Score Factors | FICO vs VantageScore: What You Need To Know About Credit Scores | The Loaded Pig
  1. Payment History – 35%
  2. Credit Utilization – 30%
  3. Length of Credit History – 15%
  4. New Credit – 10%
  5. Credit Mix – 10%

Read more about the factors that contribute to your FICO credit scores and some tips to improve your score.

FICO won’t generate a credit score for you unless you meet the following requirements:

  • One or more credit accounts open for at least 6 months
  • One or more credit accounts reported to the credit bureaus within the past 6 months

This means that if you recently opened a credit account you may not have a FICO credit score yet.

Experian Boost

VantageScore Credit Models

The VantageScore credit scoring model was introduced in 2006 by the 3 credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, to compete with FICO and provide a “more predictive scoring model that is easy to understand and apply.”

The breakdown of the factors that determine your VantageScore credit score is less clear than that of FICO:

  1. Payment History – extremely influential
  2. Length of Credit History and Types of Credit – highly influential
  3. Credit Utilization – highly influential
  4. Total Balances and Debt – moderately influential
  5. Recent Credit Behavior and Inquiries – less influential
  6. Available Credit – less influential

If you just recently started using credit, you may not have a FICO credit score but you could have a VantageScore credit score. This is because VantageScore can use one month of credit history and data from only one account reported in the last year.

Because FICO and VantageScore use a different calculation, your credit scores from them may vary. FICO claims that other scores could differ from theirs by up to 100 points. Personally, our team has seen a difference of up to 40 points between FICO and VantageScore.

Credit Score Ratings

Credit Score Ratings | FICO vs VantageScore: What You Need To Know About Credit Scores | The Loaded Pig

Credit scores from both FICO and VantageScore range from 300 to 850 and determine if you’ll be approved for a new line of credit as well as the interest rate you’ll pay. Each lender has their own ranges that they use to determine credit worthiness, but in general here’s the breakdown of credit ratings:

  • Bad: 300-629, it can be difficult to get a line of credit
  • Fair: 630-689, limited options for new credit and a high interest rate
  • Good: 690-719, more credit options and lower interest rates
  • Excellent: 720-850, lowest interest rates offered, best credit options

Where To Get Your Credit Scores


You can get your FICO credit score for free from Experian. It offers access to your Experian credit report and includes credit monitoring and alerts. Experian Boost also enables you to improve your credit score by adding payments that are left out of your credit history, like cell phone, utility bills and even Netflix, to your Experian credit report. The best part is that it’s free!


You can get your VantageScore credit scores from Credit Karma for free. Credit Karma also provides insights into your credit scores and how you can improve them as well as credit monitoring so you will receive alerts when there is a change to your credit reports. They also provide personalized recommendations for credit cards and loans depending on your credit score.

Financial freedom begins with good habits.

Rebecca & Tiago,

Rebecca co-founded The Loaded Pig with the goal of helping people achieve their financial goals. Her passion for financial freedom has landed her on US News & World Report,, Cheapism, and many other sites. Rebecca earned her Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami. She is currently a professor in the business department at Broward College.