Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Not a FICO? Not a Big Deal

It’s widely known that the FICO score is the score most used by creditors and lenders to approve your credit card, loan, or application. There are possibly hundreds of credit scores out there, so when you check your credit score, especially if you get a free credit score, chances are you’re not getting the FICO score. While, you want to see a credit score nearest to the one a lender’s going to see, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get a FICO score.

There are 49 different FICO scores and only a couple of these can be purchased by consumers on myFICO’s website. Even so, you can only purchase your FICO score based on your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports. Your FICO score based on your Experian credit report data is off-limits to you, but lenders can still check it. Unfortunately, you’ll be in the dark about your Experian FICO score unless your lender gives you the score when you apply.

Moreover, the FICO you purchase is a generic score and many of the scores lenders check are specialized for the loan you’re applying for. For example, mortgage lenders have a mortgage score that predicts the likelihood that you’ll repay a mortgage. Similarly, auto lenders have a specialized score. There are bankruptcy prediction scores, insurance scores, and other scores that we consumers cannot see. Even if you get your FICO brand score, it may not match the score the lender pulls.

Your lender may not use your FICO score at all. Some lenders have proprietary scores that rank you based on your credit history and other factors, income, expenses, amount of debt, etc. You won’t have access to these scores at all.

The good news is that nearly every credit score is calculated with priorities on the same types of information. For example, payment history and your level of debt are typically the most important factors influencing your credit score. Same thing goes for your FICO score. While a different score may not perfectly match your FICO score, the score you get may not be too far off in terms of predicting your creditworthiness.

Whether you check your FICO score or another score, it’s likely that you won’t go into the application process knowing the exact score your lender’s going to see. At best, you’ll have an estimate of your credit score. Regardless of the specific score, it’s important to know what type of credit history you have, e.g. excellent, good, fair, or poor. That can help give you some idea as to whether you’ll be approved and the type of interest rate you might get.

Remember that your credit score measures the information in your credit report. So, focus on having the most positive information – on-time payments, low credit utilization – on your credit report prior to applying for the loan.

Don’t shy away from free credit scores, like the ones from Credit Karma or Credit Sesame or any that your bank may offer as a promotion, just because they’re not FICO scores. These scores are just as useful in keeping you educated about your credit standing and helping you improve a bad credit score. Plus, they’re free. The FICO score is $19.95. If you’re going to get a score that’s doesn’t match the score the lender’s going to see, you might as well get the free one.
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Friday, 31 March 2023

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