Why Do I Get Differing Credit Scores From Different Sources?


Why Do I Get Differing Credit Scores from Different Sources?

Dear Kim,

I went onto one of the free credit scoring websites, and it stated that my score was 720. I went to buy a new car and the dealership told me that my score was 650. That is a considerable difference, and as a result, I got a higher interest rate on my car loan. Which is the correct score?

Thank you,


Dear John,

Believe it or not, this is not a simple answer. I would like to begin with the credit score you received from a free credit scoring site. There are three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. The three bureaus have a contract with the Fair Isaac Company to utilize their reported information and come up with what is known as the FICO score. The FICO score is the gold standard in credit reporting. Roughly 90% of lenders use the FICO score when determining the issuance and terms of credit.

In 2006 the same three bureaus decided to create their own algorithm in hopes to no longer rely on FICO. That is known as the Vantage Score. The Vantage Score is slowly gaining popularity amongst lenders, but is still not nearly as prevalent as FICO.  In recent years we have seen a number of free credit scoring websites crop up. At press time, a consumer is able to receive a free credit report from the three bureaus but not a free credit score. There are certain conditions under which the score can be issued for free, but not just a random consumer check. The algorithm used by the FICO Score and Vantage Score are not obtainable by these free scoring websites, so they are using yet another algorithm. The free sites will not match the FICO or Vantage Score.

You stated that you went into a car dealership and their score was considerably different. Even when a car dealership uses the Fair Isaac Company for credit score information, it is not the same scoring model as you would get as a consumer from MYFICO.com. FICO has a different variety of scoring models to meet the needs to the lending industry. FICO actually has a model referred to as an “Auto Industry Option.” This model weighs more heavily on certain areas in which an auto lender may be concerned.

The FICO consumer score and the auto lender score should not be wildly different. Before making any large purchases, obtain and review your credit report from the three bureaus to make sure that all of the information is correct. The free credit score can be a good ball park score, but do not rely on it as the true score. The Fair Isaac Company has a website, www.myfico.com, which will allow you to purchase your credit score for a nominal fee. In conclusion, check your credit report annually for free through annualcreditreport.com and follow up with a credit score check through myfico.com. Please contact one of our certified counselors at 1-800-992-4557 for more information about your credit report and score.

Good Luck,


Kim headshot 3

Kim Cole is the Education Outreach Coordinator for Navicore Solutions. Kim provides financial education workshops and seminars to communities. Readers can submit general questions relating to personal finance, credit scoring, debt management, student loans, home finance or bankruptcy which may be highlighted in the next month's edition. All identifying information will be kept anonymous.

Please send your questions via email to DearKim@navicoresolutions.org


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