You've probably seen a lot of names surrounding your credit: Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, FICO, VantageScore 3.0. But what does it all mean? Let's start with a few definitions.
Credit Bureaus: The agencies that collect consumer credit information and turn it into credit reports. The three biggest credit bureaus in the U.S. are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Credit Report: A detailed account of your credit history.
Credit Score: A three-digit number that's calculated using information from your credit report.
Scoring Model: The algorithm used to determine your credit score. There are actually dozens of scoring models out there, which means you can have many different credit scores. FICO and VantageScore 3.0 are two well-known scoring models.
FICO was created by the Fair Isaac Corporation, while VantageScore was a collaboration between Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Each bureau provides FICO and VantageScore 3.0 scores, as well as scores based on all sorts of other models.
Both FICO and VantageScore 3.0 scores range between 300 and 850. And while they do evaluate many of the same factors, like on-time payment history, they also weigh factors differently. You could say they each have their own secret sauce, and your scores could be different, depending on how each model weighs the particulars of your credit report.
Since your scores can vary based on the scoring model, it's often more helpful to look at the information in your credit reports to see where you stand. You could also follow your score based on just one scoring model over time to see how the particular things you do affect your credit health.
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