FICO Score vs. VantageScore

The FICO score was created in the mid-1980s by the company formerly known as Fair Isaac (now called FICO). The FICO score was intended to help lenders figure out which borrowers were most likely to default.

In March 2006, the three major credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - launched the VantageScore. This was a new credit score designed to provide consistency with the credit scores provided by any of the three credit bureaus.

While both the FICO and the VantageScore were created to help lenders avoid risky, and therefore costly, borrowers, there are some key differences in the two credit scoring models.

Credit Score Range

The FICO score ranges from 300 to 850. VantageScore 3.0 adopted the 300 to 850 range, but earlier versions of the VantageScore use a 501 to 990 range. Both credit scores consider borrowers with higher credit scores to be less risky than borrowers with low credit scores.

The VantageScore 2.0 and earlier assigned a letter grade to its credit score depending on where it falls within the range:

  • 901 – 990 = A, Super Prime
  • 801 – 900 = B, Prime Plus
  • 701 – 800 = C, Prime
  • 601 – 700 = D, Non-Prime
  • 501 – 600 = F, High Risk

Credit Score Calculation

The FICO score bases its credit scoring formula on five categories of information, while the VantageScore uses six.

FICO Score

  • 35% payment history
  • 30% level of debt
  • 15% age of credit history
  • 10% types of credit
  • 10% credit inquiries

VantageScore 3.0

  • Payment history - 40%
  • Age and type of credit - 21%
  • Percent of credit used - 20%
  • Total balances/debt - 11%
  • Recent credit behavior and inquiries - 5%
  • Available credit - 3%

VantageScore 2.0

  • 32% payment history
  • 23% utilization
  • 15% balances
  • 13% depth of credit
  • 10% recent credit
  • 7% available credit

Both the FICO and VantageScore credit scoring formulas give about the same amount of percentages for payment history and new credit inquiries. But, there's a big difference in the treatment of utilization, age of credit history, and types of credit.

FICO gives utilization 30% of its credit score, while the VantageScore places a heavy 45% on how much credit you're using.

FICO gives a total 25% to age of credit history and types of credit. The VantageScore gives these two factors 13%.

Which is Better

From a consumer standpoint, the better credit score is the one your lender is using to approve or decline your application. Since more lenders use the FICO score, you may be better off checking that score. Don't take that for granted though. Always ask your lender which credit score they'll be checking. Be aware that the credit score you purchase from the internet probably won't perfectly match the one the lender checks, but it can give you an idea of where you stand.

For free copies of your VantageScore, check,,, or None of these services require a credit card for your free credit scores.