In my first VantageScore post this morning, I recommended that you check your Experian VantageScore online. I might want to take that statement back. I just completed my purchase of the Experian VantageScore and I have to report that I am less than impressed. Here’s a description of what happened:
Step 1: Ordering.
I have always disliked the Experian order process. Compared to the other bureaus and FICO, their forms are confusing and their security a bit too relaxed. Experian doesn’t tell you the price of the product ($5.95) until you are halfway through the order. Their identity verification questions would be far too easy for a thief to guess the answers. There is no account creation system so that you can return to your score after your order. Experian only allows for credit card orders and they don’t even ask for the three digit security code from the back of your credit card.
Step 2: Still Ordering?
For some reason, Experian decides to send you to a page with credit tips and information about the VantageScore instead of directly to your purchase. It took me a few seconds to read over this page and see that I had to click the blue button at the bottom to proceed.
Step 3: Reviewing my Score
Whew! I finally reached the end of the order process and received my score…or did I? This page is pretty terribly designed, and I couldn’t find my score for quite a few seconds. Click on the image to see for yourself. How long did it take you? Why did Experian decide to bury the good stuff in mounds of marketing copy about the importance of the Vantage Score?
Since this score doesn’t include my Experian credit report, it’s hard to put it into perspective or to check on the factors that are impacting my standing. And the new VantageScore range is definitely confusing to me. According to Experian, I have an 885, B, PrimePlus score. Even as a "credit expert" I have a hard time understanding just what that means.
Overall, I was not very satisfied with the Experian VantageScore. I decided to order my Experian FICO Score online in order to compare products:
Step 1: Ordering
I have a login with FICO from previous orders and didn’t have to go through the account and identity verification process. The system took me straight to the order page once I was logged in. The FICO Score and report does costs $14.95, more than twice what the VantageScore costs. But FICO allows you to pay with something other than a credit card and does ask you for your credit card’s 3 digit security code. Once you hit the "Make Purchase Now" button you are taken to a receipt page and then straight to your credit score.
Step 2: Reviewing my Score
It is a lot easier to see my credit score on the FICO page. It’s posted right at the top and again in the middle of the page. FICO’s range graphic is a little hard to read but gives me a fairly clear idea of where I stand. What my score means is outlined in bullets below my score. While Experian only said I had a "B," FICO explains that my score is "excellent" and that "it is extremely unlikely" that my credit and loan applications would be denied. Plus, the FICO score includes my Experian credit report data. I can check on each of the accounts on my credit report to see if they are reporting accurately. And, because of my login, I can return to FICO for 30 days to check this score again.
FICO wins this battle from a usability perspective. Ordering online was simple, I felt that my order was secure and the final product was easy to understand. Experian’s VantageScore was difficult to interpret and their ordering system was poorly designed. It’s a shame that Experian didn’t incorporate their flashy interactive graphics from their homepage into the final product. I hope that the Equifax and TransUnion VantageScore products are going to be better than Experian’s product. If the bureaus are serious about competing with FICO, they need to work on making this score the best in the industry for both consumers and businesses.
Did you order your VantageScore online? What did you think about the new credit score? Share your feedback in the comments section below.