FICO vs Vantage – Which score will my lender use?

June 10, 2021
Shawn Lane
Consumer Credit Expert

You’re probably aware that a high credit score is the single most important factor in securing a loan. But did you know that you have more than one credit score?

FICO and VantageScore are the two main credit scoring models used by lenders. They each take a similar, but slightly different approach to calculating your score.

If you’re worried about securing the best rates on your next loan, you might be wondering which score the lender is most likely to use. Read on for the answer to that question and more.

How FICO and VantageScore are Similar
FICO and VantageScore are the two main companies that provide credit scores for lenders, credit card companies, employers and more. Both use the same general criteria to compile a score, but each weigh the individual factors differently.

According to VantageScore, the following factors make up a credit score:

●     Credit usage and available credit: extremely influential
●     Credit mix and experience: highly influential
●     On-time payment history: moderately influential
●     New accounts opened: less influential
●     Age of credit history: less influential

Here’s how FICO describes their credit score calculation:

●     Payment history: 35%
●     Credit utilization: 30%
●     Length of credit history: 15%
●     New credit: 10%
●     Credit mix: 10%


Neither FICO or VantageScore use your income, gender, ethnicity, or net worth to calculate your credit score. Both companies are also constantly updating their scoring algorithms.

How FICO and VantageScore are Different
FICO was the original creator of the credit score and has been around since 1956. VantageScore was created in 2006.

It’s not uncommon to see a discrepancy between your FICO and VantageScore number because of the differences in approach. FICO may decide that a recent late payment will decrease your score by 80 points while VantageScore might only dock you by 65 points. The exact calculations are not shared by either company, so it’s hard to give specific reasons why your score might vary.

Another key difference is that you must have a credit account open for six months or more to have a FICO credit score, but you only need a credit account open for one month to have a VantageScore.


FICO also produces different scoring models for different lenders, so the score an auto lender sees will be different than what a mortgage lender sees. Most FICO models range from 300 to 850, but a few range between 250 and 900. VantageScore 3.0 only has one score range between 300 and 850.  

VantageScore and FICO also define credit scores differently. If your credit score qualifies as an “excellent” VantageScore, it may only be a “very good” FICO score.

Here’s how FICO categorizes credit scores:

●     Exceptional: 800-850
●     Very good: 740-799
●     Good: 670-739
●     Fair: 580-669
●     Very poor: 300-579

VantageScore uses the following categories:

●     Excellent: 781-850
●     Good: 661-780
●     Fair: 610-660
●     Poor: 500-600
●     Very poor: 300-499


Which Credit Score Will My Lender Use?
Most free credit score sites only show the VantageScore credit score, but more than 90% of banks and lenders use the FICO score to determine your loan or credit card eligibility. Landlords who check your credit will often see a VantageScore.

When you apply for a loan or credit card, you can read the terms and conditions or contact the lender to find out what scoring model they use. Having said that, it’s a fair guess that they’ll use your FICO score.

The Bottom Line
Even though there are some key distinctions between FICO and VantageScore, the basic principles still apply to both when it comes to increasing your credit score. Pay your bills on time, keep your credit utilization low and avoid closing old accounts. Abiding by those rules will improve both your FICO and VantageScore credit scores over time.

Do you have credit questions or need help improving your credit scores? Schedule a free credit analysis with a Financial Renovation Solutions credit consultant today.