Basically, "credit score" and "FICO® score" are all referring to the same thing. A FICO® score is a type of credit scoring model. While different reporting agencies may weigh factors slightly differently, they are all essentially measuring the same thing.
Not all credit scores are FICO Scores.
Today, more than 90% of top lenders use FICO Scores to make faster, fairer, and more accurate lending decisions. Other credit scores can be very different from FICO Scores—sometimes by as much as 100 points!
When the scores are significantly different across bureaus, it is likely the underlying data in the credit bureaus is different and thus driving that observed score difference.
For the majority of general lending decisions, such as personal loans and credit cards, lenders use your FICO Score. Your FICO Score is calculated by the data analytics company Fair Isaac Corporation, and it's based on data from your credit reports. VantageScore, another scoring model, is a well-known alternative.
Although ranges vary depending on the credit scoring model, generally credit scores from 580 to 669 are considered fair; 670 to 739 are considered good; 740 to 799 are considered very good; and 800 and up are considered excellent.
The most accurate credit scores are the latest versions of the FICO Score and VantageScore credit-scoring models: FICO Score 8 and VantageScore 3.0. It is important to check a reputable, accurate credit score because there are more than 1,000 different types of credit scores floating around.
When you pay off a loan, your credit score could be negatively affected. This is because your credit history is shortened, and roughly 10% of your score is based on how old your accounts are. If you've paid off a loan in the past few months, you may just now be seeing your score go down.
Credit Karma touts that it will always be free to the consumers who use its website or mobile app. But how accurate is Credit Karma? In some cases, as seen in an example below, Credit Karma may be off by 20 to 25 points.
FICO 8 scores range between 300 and 850. A FICO score of at least 700 is considered a good score. There are also industry-specific versions of credit scores that businesses use. For example, the FICO Bankcard Score 8 is the most widely used score when you apply for a new credit card or a credit-limit increase.
It's generally recommended that you have two to three credit card accounts at a time, in addition to other types of credit. Remember that your total available credit and your debt to credit ratio can impact your credit scores. If you have more than three credit cards, it may be hard to keep track of monthly payments.
The closer you are to your credit limit, the more paying off credit cards improves your score because it reduces your credit utilization rate. Similarly, the more you pay down on your balance, the more you impact your credit score.
Is TransUnion more important than Equifax? The short answer is no. Both TransUnion and Equifax are reliable credit reporting agencies that compile reports and calculate your credit scores using different scoring models.
Our Verdict: Credit Karma has better credit monitoring and more features, but Experian actually gives you your “real” credit score. Plus it offers the wonderful Experian Boost tool. Since they're both free, it's worth it to get both of them.
It's recommended you have a credit score of 620 or higher when you apply for a conventional loan. If your score is below 620, lenders either won't be able to approve your loan or may be required to offer you a higher interest rate, which can result in higher monthly payments.
Credit utilization — the portion of your credit limits that you are currently using — is a significant factor in credit scores. It is one reason your credit score could drop a little after you pay off debt, particularly if you close the account.
Payment History Is the Most Important Factor of Your Credit Score. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO® Score.
What Credit Score Do Lenders Use? The two main companies that produce and maintain credit scoring models are FICO® and VantageScore. Lenders most commonly use the FICO® Score to make lending decisions, and in particular, the FICO® Score 8 is the most popular version for general use.
Your credit score is a major factor in whether you'll be approved for a car loan. Some lenders use specialized credit scores, such as a FICO Auto Score. In general, you'll need at least prime credit, meaning a credit score of 661 or up, to get a loan at a good interest rate.
It's Best to Pay Your Credit Card Balance in Full Each Month
Leaving a balance will not help your credit scores—it will just cost you money in the form of interest. Carrying a high balance on your credit cards has a negative impact on scores because it increases your credit utilization ratio.
The most important principle for using credit cards is to always pay your bill on time and in full. Following this simple rule can help you avoid interest charges, late fees and poor credit scores. By paying your bill in full, you'll avoid interest and build toward a high credit score.
To build good credit and stay out of debt, you should always aim to pay off your credit card bill in full every month. If you want to be really on top of your game, it might seem logical to pay off your balance more often, so your card is never in the red. But hold off.