Multiple Credit Scores

Recently, I’ve noticed that my credit card companies have been offering me free FICO credit scores, but they’re not the same. One bank says my credit score is 806, while another says it’s 819 (I recognize that either way, this is a good credit score, and I should be patting myself on the back for always making my payments on time and being a responsible borrower). Still, I wondered about the difference.

The WSJ’s Annamarie Andriotis has the answer:

Many lenders get a score from only one of the three big credit-reporting firms — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — which is the score they show to customers through this program. (Mortgage lenders are an exception because most pull FICO scores from all three firms.) For example, Sallie Mae and Barclaycard, the credit-card issuer and unit of Barclays, check the score from TransUnion, while J.P. Morgan Chase, which shows some of its Slate credit-card holders their score, gets it from Experian…

In most cases, all of a consumer’s FICO scores should be in the same ballpark — generally not varying by more than 25 points — and the score differences shouldn’t change a lender’s decision to approve a borrower, Mr. Ulzheimer says.

Andriotis also notes that private student loan lenders like Sallie Mae will also be providing borrowers with their score, and Ally Financial will be offering scores to its car-loan customers. FICO Scores, everywhere you turn.

Good credit scores means a greater likelihood of getting a loan (i.e. mortgage or car loan) with a low interest rate, but that’s not why I check it. If your credit score seems unusually low, it can be a sign that your report has an error in it.

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