Difference between VantageScore and FICO Score

September 15, 2016 by Editorial Team

These are the two most widely used credit scoring models in the U.S., and arguments over which is more accurate in depicting an individual’s creditworthiness have always been a topic of much debate.


A pie graph showing the categories included in calculating the VantageScore.

Introduced on March 14, 2006, VantageScore is a credit rating model designed by Equifax, Transunion and Experian, which form the three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S. It is one of the most trusted credit rating products used in measuring a consumer’s creditworthiness. It allows lenders such as banks to determine if someone is eligible to take out a mortgage, car loan or credit card. It is also used for new service applications for utilities such as electricity, cable TV and Internet service. VantageScore received a few updates since it was introduced in 2006, with the most recent one in 2013 when VantageScore 3.0 was released.

The latest version of VantageScore features a credit score range of 300 to 850, which is the same range FICO implements. VantageScore also assigns a letter grade. The precise details of calculating the credit score are kept secret, but categories that affect the score (e.g., payment history, length of credit history, etc.) and the corresponding proportions used were revealed to consumers. The rating would indicate a customer as being a high or low credit risk.

A pie chart showing factors that affect FICO credit scores

The FICO score was introduced in 1989 by a company formerly known as Fair, Isaac and Company. It is a scoring model based on a consumer’s credit files as collected by the three major credit reporting agencies. FICO scores generated by each of the credit reporting bureaus may vary, as a consumer’s credit file may contain different information as gathered by each of the credit bureaus.

The exact way of calculating a FICO credit score is kept a secret as well. It takes into account many factors in an individual’s credit history to calculate the credit score, and these factors include a consumer’s payment history (bankruptcies, judgements, liens, late payments, etc.) and debt burden (number of accounts with balances, amount owed, etc.), just to name a few.

There are several types of FICO scores that can be pulled: classic or generic, personal finance, bankcard, mortgage, auto loan, installment loan and NextGen score. The classic FICO score features a range of 300 to 850, while the bankcard and auto scores have a range of 250 to 950. The mortgage score is from 300 to 850.

VantageScore vs FICO Score

Now, what is the difference between VantageScore and FICO score? The FICO scoring models are based on countless credit reports from various consumers. A separate model is then built for each credit agency based on that data. VantageScore uses a credit rating model developed by Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

VantageScore also boasts of being able to pull a credit report from “thin files,” or reports with very short credit history. Computing a VantageScore requires a minimum of one month of payment history, reported to the agencies within the last two years. FICO, on the other hand, needs at least one account reported within the last six months.

Multiple hard inquiries conducted on an individual’s FICO credit report within a 45-day window are grouped together as a one hard inquiry, while the VantageScore model counts a series of hard inquiries as one only if the hard inquiries were done in a 14-day time frame. This feature is meant to protect consumers shopping around for a good car deal or mortgage, where pulling a credit report is required.

Comparison Chart

FICO ScoreVantageScore
Uses a credit scoring model developed by Fair, Isaac and Company based on data from credit reports from the credit reporting agenciesUses credit scoring model developed by Experian, TransUnion and Equifax based on credit files from each credit reporting agency.
Requires a minimum of one account reported in the last six months with at least a six-month history to generate a credit score.Requires only a single account with at least a month of payment history filed in the last two years to be able to generate a credit score.
Hard inquiries grouped together as one within a 45-day window.Hard inquiries count as one on the credit report within a 14-day window


Here’s a great video that talks about the difference between VantageScore and the FICO score.