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Why Are My Credit Scores So Different?

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Q. I checked my credit reports. I have scores of 683, 720 and 735. Is that considered good credit, and why are the scores different?

A. We’re glad you’re keeping tabs on your credit.

One big reason your scores are different is because they have been calculated using information from three different credit reporting agencies, said Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com. That information may be somewhat different.

“Since creditors aren’t required to report to all three agencies, some may report to just one or two, for example,” she said. “But more likely reason they are different is because each agency is using a different credit-scoring model to create the score, and each model may weigh information slightly differently.”

For example, one scoring model might ignore all paid collection accounts, while another might ignore collection accounts where the original balance was less than $100, Detweiler said.

As for whether they are good credit scores, that really depends.

Detweiler said consumers need to understand the range that is being used for the scores.

“While most FICO scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850, for example, the NextGen FICO score — which at least one major issuer shows to consumers on their credit card statements — goes up to 950,” she said. “An 800 in a model where the highest score is 850 would be considered excellent, but if the highest score in the model is 950 then an 800 might just be ‘good.’”

While you’ll never know the exact formula used by all the credit bureaus, it’s important for you to understand what goes into a credit score.

FICO scores are made up of: 35% for payment history, 30% for the number of accounts owned, 15% for length of credit history, 10% on the amount of credit used, and 10% is for new credit.

So the differences among your scores could be as simple as what’s reported to each agency, but it could be something more.

“I would look at the history or the details on the lower score to make sure there are no erroneous entries or missing accounts in your file, which may result in a slightly lower score,” said Michael Gibney, a certified financial planner with Highland Financial in Riverdale.

So are your scores good ones?

Ultimately, a good score is the one that gets you what you want, whether that’s a low interest rate or a high credit limit, or both, Detweiler said.

“There, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, namely the card issuer which will decide which scores make the cut,” she said. (You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

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  • John Harrod

    We have a company that monitors our credit, fraud alert. We were trying to get a pre approval for ahome loan. According to the credit report we recieved scores were 722, 715, and last one was 655. The mortgage company told us we needed to be at or above 620, and they showed one of our scores was at 611. We tried to dispute this to no avail. Why is the scores so different?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      John —
      We don’t know why it was so different. In some cases, mortgage companies pull three scores and use the middle one . . . but there are specialty scores, and scores that are built around different ranges. Some scores top out at 850; one that is now used by some creditors goes to 900. So without context, it is hard to know. Here are a couple of other resources that might be useful to you:
      How to Build Credit the Smart Way
      Making Sense of Your Credit Score

    • Josh

      Where did you get your 722,715,655 scores from? I would suggest getting your scores from myfico.com so you get FICO scores.

    • heavyw8t

      John, for reference, this may help you. I went out to experian.com and bought my 3 reports and scores. Those scores were 644, 637, 614. At almost the same time, I was looking at a refinance for my mortgage. The mortgage credit model said my scores were 710, 687 and 670. So as the advice from the professionals here will corroborate, it is largely about the model used to determine the score. If you got your scores that you reported in your original post from one of the free services, they probably used a little more “liberal” model to give you those numbers. Just keep on paying bills on time and don’t apply for any new credit and check again in 6 months or so.

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