FICO® Score and VantageScore® | Soft Pull Solutions Skip to main content

FICO® Score and VantageScore®

Did you know that you have more than one credit score? Many people do not realize that there are several credit scoring companies out there. Each company uses different models to calculate your credit score.

The two largest and most well-known credit scoring companies are FICO® and VantageScore®. These two companies have become the standard for credit scoring in the United States.

What is a credit score and why is it important?

Before we look at the differences between FICO® and VantageScore®, let’s look at what a credit score is and why it is important?

Equifax explains that a credit score is a three-digit number that is given to a person to represent their credit risk to potential lenders. The score is based on numerous factors from your credit reports, such as the length of your credit history, your payment history, and your amount of debt. Other data, like your income, can also be used based on the specific credit scoring model.

Why is this three-digit number so important? Your credit score is used by potential creditors and lenders to help them determine if they are willing to lend you money or extend you a line of credit. Your credit score allows them to see how likely you are to make your payments on time. The higher your credit score, the less risk you represent to banks, car dealers, credit card companies, mortgage brokers, and more.

In addition to being more likely to secure a loan, a higher credit score may provide you with more favorable terms. For example, you might be granted a lower interest rate which results in a lower payment and less interest paid overtime.

Both FICO® and VantageScore® provide credit scores that can be used by creditors and lenders. They each use software to generate a credit score after analyzing a person’s credit report and other data.

As you can imagine, each company has its own unique proprietary credit scoring model. But, they are both continually updating their models to remain predictive. Factors that may impact their models include new technology, new industry practices, and changes in consumer behavior.

Ultimately, both companies have the same goal of predicting how likely it is that someone will fall behind in paying their bills over the next two years. Let’s look more at each company.

FICO® Score


The Fair, Issac, and Company (FICO) was created in 1956. Bill Fair, an engineer, and Earl Issac, a mathematician, formed the company to build on their idea that data could be intelligently used to improve business decisions. In 2009, The Fair Issac Corporation changed its name to FICO®.

In 1991, FICO® released its credit bureau risk scores to the three major credit report agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. By 1995, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two large mortgage lending companies, were recommending the use of FICO® scores to be used for mortgage lending decisions.


FICO® has developed bureau-specific scoring models. This means that it generates three slightly different scores based on the specific credit bureau that was used. FICO® has also created industry-specific scores that can be used for auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards.

Score range

FICO® generates a credit score in the range of 300 to 850. The higher the consumer’s score, the lower the risk they present to lenders. For the industry-specific score, the range is 250 to 900.

Credit history length

In order to have a FICO® score, consumers must have a credit account that is at least six months old. They must demonstrate activity during that time.

Scoring criteria

FICO® uses five categories to determine a score. Each category is given a specific weight within its model. Here are the categories that impact a FICO® score.

  • Payment history
  • Amounts owed
  • Length of credit history
  • New credit
  • Credit mix
Hard inquiries

When you apply for a new line of credit, the potential lender does a credit check. This is considered a hard inquiry on your credit report. It impacts your credit for a period of time.

For most hard inquiries, FICO® has a 45-day window in which multiple inquiries for the same purpose are only counted once. This allows you to look for the best terms with multiple lenders without it greatly impacting your credit score negatively.

VantageScore® Score


VantageScore® was founded in 2006 by the three top credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It was created to use “data analytics to drive innovation and inclusion.”

The credit bureaus developed VantageScore® to create a more consistent score that would be used by all three bureaus. Prior to VantageScore®, they each had their own credit scoring methods. This created three different scores for consumers even though the scores were being determined from the same credit report. This made it confusing. Coming together to create one score would make it easier to understand.


The purpose of developing VantageScore® was to eliminate three different scores. Instead, VantageScore® created a single tri-bureau model that produces a single score across all three credit bureaus.

Score range

Like FICO®, the newest VantageScore® model generates a credit score between 300 to 850. The highest scores represent less risk to lenders. Prior models had a slightly different range.

Credit history length

While FICO® requires consumers to have six months of credit activity, VantageScore® does not. Consumers just need to have at least one account on it. There is no minimum timeframe.

This difference allows more consumers to have access to a credit score with VantageScore®. This is particularly helpful to young adults, college students, and new immigrants who are just starting to build their credit history.

Scoring criteria

VantageScore® uses six categories to calculate its credit score. However, they do not designate a specific weight for each category. Instead, they give each category a level of influence. Here are the categories and their level of influence.

  • Payment history: extremely influential
  • Age and type of credit: highly influential
  • Percentage of credit limit used: highly influential
  • Total balances and debt: moderately influential
  • Recent credit behavior and inquiries: less influential
  • Available credit: less influential
Hard inquiries

VantageScore® has a shorter window for hard inquiries than FICO®. They give consumers a 14-day window. However, they do not all have to be for the same purpose. All hard inquiries during the 14 days are considered one hard inquiry.

Improving your score

Despite the numerous differences between FICO® and VantageScore®, there are steps you take to improve your score. As you work on creating a good credit history, it will be beneficial for both scores.

Navigating the complex world of credit scores and current models can be challenging. If you are a business interested in seeing how Soft Pull Solutions can help your customers qualify for financing, visit our credit report services web page or contact us.

About the author

Soft Pull Solutions

Back to top