VantageScore vs FICO Score: Here’s The Truth

Posted by CreditCardGuru

The Vantage credit score is a world apart from the FICO score. Make sure you know their similarities – and most important of all – their differences.

What is VantageScore?

Before there was VantageScore, there was FICO. Let’s talk about that first…

  • In 1958 Fair Isaac Corp. created the first credit score model.
  • In ’81 they created the first scoring models for credit agencies.
  • In ’89 they launched the first FICO score for general-purpose.
  • In a nutshell, FICO was first. It has been (and still is) the industry leader for credit scoring. It’s usually what lenders look at when they consider your credit application.

The three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – have to pay Fair Isaac to license their proprietary FICO scoring algorithm. So the three of them banded together to create the Vantage credit score for their own use to save money. However FICO was and still is the gold standard for lending/credit decisions – purportedly with a near 90 percent marketshare.

But rather than pay $19.95 every single time you check it (which is what MyFICO charges) you can actually get regular free access to your FICO score with this new card:If you have excellent credit, then consider this other card of theirs:
The three credit agencies hope their own credit score model, the VantageScore, will become a viable competitor.

  • In March of 2006 the first version was launched. The VantageScore range at the time was 501 to 990 (versus FICO’s 300 to 850).
  • In October 2010 the second version – 2.0 – was launched. It still ran on the same score range, but claimed to offer “improved predictive performance.”
  • In 2013, the score switched to a 300-to-850 range with its 3.0 model to more closely follow FICO.

Who uses VantageScore?

This score hasn’t even been around a decade yet and thus far, lenders have failed to adapt it on a wide scale. To put things in perspective, according to FICO’s website, their scoring models are used by more than 90 percent of the largest lenders. So who is actually using VantageScore? That’s hard to answer!

In 2006 Fair Isaac Corp. filed suit against VantageScore Solutions, LLC alleging that they were trying to drive Fair Isaac out of the credit scoring industry. Within the 52-page court order, it’s claimed that VantageScore’s marketshare was only 5.7 percent.

In the years since usage has gone up, but by how much is anyone’s guess. According to VantageScore’s website, the score is used by

  • 7 of the Top 10 major financial institutions
  • 8 of the Top 10 credit card issuers
  • 6 of the Top 10 auto lenders
  • 5 of the Top 5 mortgage lenders

The question is, though, how often are 7 of the Top 10 major financial institutions using VantageScore vs. FICO? I believe that would give us a clearer picture as to who uses Vantage credit scores.

VantageScore vs. FICO score?

Here’s are a couple things to consider when comparing these scores:


The formulas for both FICO and VantageScore are secret, so no one can tell you exactly how they are calculated. However both companies do provide some basic information as to the general categories and how they affect your score. Here’s FICO’s breakdown:

FICO components pie chart

VantageScore, meanwhile, doesn’t have an exact breakdown, but provides this approximation:

Extremely influential factors:
-Payment history

Highly influential factors:
-Age and type of credit
-Percentage of credit limit used

Moderately influential factors:
-Total balances/debt

Less influential factors:
-Recent behavior and inquiries
-Available credit

For a more detailed explanation of this, check out my post about highest credit scores.


So how do you convert a score from one to the other?

Well as mentioned above, even though they’re quite similar, they don’t weigh things the same. For example, VantageScore seems to lump age of account history and credit mix into one “highly influential” category, while FICO divides them up into two less influential categories.

Therefore since these are two different algorithms, an accurate VantageScore to FICO (or vice versa) conversion is not truly possible!

When the VantageScore used its old 501-990 scale, some people recommended converting between them using an approximate, back of the envelope formula like so: multiply Vantage by 0.86 (since FICO’s top score of 850 was just about 86% of 990). Or to convert from FICO to Vantage, you multiply by 1.16 (which is 990 divided by 850). Yes, that might have given you a ballpark approximation, but more often than not, these formulas seemed to yield unreliable results.

Bottom line: Even though the score ranges have been made the same due to Vantage emulating FICO, you can’t draw neat or very accurate comparisons. We are talking about completely different credit scoring models, each weighing the various components in a different manner.

How important (or not) is your VantageScore to you?

Admittedly, I’ve been fairly critical of the VantageScore, but the main reason for that is because it hasn’t been widely adopted by lenders.

You can, however, get it for free on Credit Karma, and it can be a useful way to track your credit-building process over time and see how certain actions affect your credit. But, with several issuers like Discover Card and Barclaycard offering real FICO scores for free each month included on their billings statements it’s hardly worth going through the Karma exercise anymore in my opinion unless you don’t have or want one of these cards.

Updated November 12, 2014

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

39 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Matt March 21, 2015 at 12:39PM

    So for many of you, your vantage score is lower than your fico, but for me it’s the opposite. My fico score is waaaay less comparing my fico from score and and my vantage from credit Over 100 points! If anyone knows of an auto lender that uses vantage scores let me know please. Not trying to pay 17.5 percent interest…

  2. Wes March 16, 2015 at 11:07AM

    Credit Karma is in the business of driving traffic to their site/application. They also get a slice of the pie when you apply or click on a card that they promote. They ARE NOT a true credit reporting agency. I ONLY see value in them if you are trying to improve your credit and want to see scenarios or past activity which may impact your credit…while actually ignoring their score. Remember, Credit Karma makes money by selling something (whether it is advertising space or clicks). So if you login and check your “score” and see that you are a good candidate for a credit card and select that card they get money. If you think your Credit Karma score is actually what lenders currently look at then you may be surprised when you actually try to get credit. At the end of the day, treat Credit Karma like a “training” site for those that want to track activity and play with scenarios. Want to really see what your credit looks like? Well you have to go to FICO to get that. Take your Credit Karma number with a grain of salt. I go through this all the time with people wanting to secure a home loan who think their 700+ Vantage score means something when in fact they have a 600 on FICO. I also use Credit Karma to look at what accounts I have or even to pull the credit report (sans true score) for identity theft tracking and such so it does have SOME value. At the end of the day you get what you pay for so make the best of it.

  3. Freya February 11, 2015 at 4:18PM

    I received an e-mail from Credit Karma telling me that I had not checked my score in 62 days. The last recorded score, 699, was in large print. So, I went to their website to calm them down by looking at my score. The Vantage score, which the site said was derived using data from TransUnion, was 626. Beside that score was a circle inside which +15 was written. I assumed that was the change in the score. Now, assuming my interpretation of the number in the circle is correct, how can 699 + 15 = 626? All of this information came from Credit Karma, either on their site or in their e-mail. I also did not do anything that would cause my score to drop by 73 points; in fact, I’ve cleared two credit cards.
    On the same day, my TransUnion score, provided by one of my credit cards, had risen from 699 to 710.

    • Brenda February 27, 2015 at 5:22AM

      They switched from posting the Transunion to the Vantage score. You can still see the Transunion if you look at the archive scores it will show them side by side. It dropped me like 90 points, and stressed me out until I figured out what happened.

  4. Derek February 6, 2015 at 9:57AM

    So I logged on to Credit Karma today and saw my scores…they are the new Vantage scores…according to them, my Vantage score is 681!! but when I check my FICO score through my capital one, barclays, and discover, my score is 720!! I’ve worked really hard to get it back to a 720 FICO, and now I am besides myself with this new Vantage score. What I don’t understand is how some are posting higher vantage scores than Fico, I have the complete reverse…higher Fico, lower vantage.

    • Kristina February 11, 2015 at 2:40PM

      I am in shock because I just witnessed the same thing. My credit score on Credit Karma was 718 a month ago, but today I checked and it has dropped to 620. I panicked!! I do not understand how my score could drop almost 100 points when I have not applied for any new credit, have not paid anything late, etc.

      • Tim March 13, 2015 at 1:22PM

        Credit Karma switched from Vantage Score 2.0 (scale 501-990) which is why everyone thought they had high credit scores. Now they have switched to Vantage Score 3.0 (scale 350-850) which is more in line with FICO, and closer to your real FICO score–which was the case for me, 728 Credit Karma, and 725 FICO.

      • Sylvia March 22, 2015 at 10:24AM

        I had the same – a drastic drop in score and I panicked because I’m trying to get a mortgage. Then I noticed that Credit Seseme did the very same thing and switched over to Vantage. I know longer trust these two free sites.

    • Kim March 9, 2015 at 4:10PM

      I feel the same way. I have been working my behind off to finally get good credit. I recently raised my credit and was able to purchase my first home and now I am obsessed with increasing my credit score. Both my Discover and Barclaycard give me my FICO and it is 695. Recently another credit card has offered the Vantage Score and it has given me a 603 – just 3 points above poor credit. So frustrating!!!

  5. frustrated realtor January 23, 2015 at 11:43AM

    I paid to get my FICO scores from Experian 710, Equifax 700, Transunion 724. Applied for a refinance and had my scores pulled Experian 756, Equifax 744, Transunion 741. Logged on to CrediKarma yesterday and my “vantage scores” were Experian 686, Transunion 686. Needless to say, this is very confusing and frustrating.

    • jookyone January 29, 2015 at 10:36AM

      I did exactly the same (minus applying for a refinance, which is the purpose I’m monitoring my credit to maximize the best rate) with nearly identical score ranges.

      Needless to say CreditKarma’s switch to Vantage and not their ballpark FICO scoring, will prevent me from using CreditKarma moving forward.

      Having multiple scoring systems with no consistency in new scoring systems seems to keep the industry doing what it has been doing for 50+ years, and that is using the FICO score and ignoring the others.

    • ernest February 18, 2015 at 3:54AM

      Your MyFico is your true score. When you apply for an Auto they use your’Auto Fico’ which is heavily influenced by passed auto payment history. Credit Karma is a Vantage score, they use different formulas than does Fico

      • ernest February 18, 2015 at 3:55AM


  6. Buddy January 7, 2015 at 7:23AM

    We must not neglect the Beacon Score which is a separate score used mostly by car dealers.

  7. Chuck P August 24, 2014 at 10:10PM

    While I’m not a fan of regulation, it seems that it is appropriate here.

    If people are going to be judged on their credit score, then just as our laws must be equally applied to all, then the same should be said about how credit scores are tabulated.

    But we are not all judged the same. For example, I have recently been apprised that Federal Tax Liens are taken off once released by the IRS; yet state tax liens are not, regardless if they have been released or not.

    The Bureaus as I am told, argue that state liens are public records and are therefore not subject to be removed; yet a federal tax lien which is also a public record can and will be removed upon application to do so. I would then argue that if you remove one; the other most also be removed.

    That is my argument at the moment; I will gladly keep you all abreast of my situation.

    • Buddy January 7, 2015 at 7:22AM

      What does “not a fan of regulation” really mean? Does that mean regulation of the airline industry to ensure minimum levels of safety are met? Does that mean regulation of city parks to ensure squatters do not set up tent cities? Does that mean regulation of building to ensure your neighbor does not open an adult sex toy store?

      Fact is almost all of us benefit from and desire regulation of different sorts.

      The key to the effective utilization of credit is for the consumer to understand the components of all credit scores. While the percentage of each component may differ between scores the components are essentially the same. A small amount of time monitoring these components can be most beneficial.

      Anyone desiring a reasonable estimate of their credit score should check out Credit Karma. A free service which provides a reasonable estimate of a person’s credit score. This service provides separate summaries for each component of a credit score making monitoring quite easy.

      • oldwally January 23, 2015 at 6:26PM

        It looks as though Credit Karma has ditched FICO and embraced Vantage score. I am really frustrated with CK. They always showed lower FICO scores than a credit report and now they are using a credit scoring system that 90% of lenders do not use. What is the point of Credit Karma?

  8. Mad Guy May 26, 2014 at 2:01AM

    Why the hell do I have to pay for MY credit score? Why the hell is the formula to MY credit score a secret? Why the hell are we paying for them to keep tabs on us for other people? And so many more “why the hells?”.

  9. NOTHING NEW March 28, 2014 at 1:26PM

    This is ridiculous!
    what’s the point of having two of we still consistently use one for major purchases such as house, or cars?

  10. Mikey March 2, 2014 at 12:09PM

    This is the fourth site where I have seen the comparison between FICO and Vantage. I wondered about the statement that FICO uses amount owed and Vantage uses utilization.

    I worked at FICO for a number of years and unless things have changed utilization is essentially the same thing as amounts owed .

    This is directly from the FICO site (my caps):
    “How much of the total credit line is being used and other “revolving” credit accounts
    Someone who is close to “maxing out” several credit cards has a high credit UTILIZATION ratio and may have trouble making payments in the future”

    Vantage lists three categories that all fall under the class of utilization and amount owed:utilization, balances, available credit.

    All three of these can make up various measures of utilization, so they really are redundant and, if the %’s are accurate, Vantage really is heavily weighted towards some measure of “utilization” at 23% + 15% + 7% = 45%.

    Seems a bit unbalanced to me.

    • Victoria July 23, 2014 at 1:14PM

      Utilization does not equal amounts owed. If you have a credit card with a limit of $1000 and you’re only using $100 that’s 10% utilization. If you have a credit card with a limit of $100 and you’re using the $100 that’s 100% utilization. That’s a huge difference. It’s about not maxing out your credit cards. If you max stuff out then you either A)aren’t paying enough, B)can’t control your spending, C)feel the need to open other accounts which creates more debt.

  11. equaltemp October 19, 2013 at 8:29PM

    I would assume lenders would want to use credit scoring companies that provide the most accurate scores, in terms of a consumer’s credit worthiness. If lenders believe the VantageScore to more accurate that Fico, then it makes perfect sense for them to use the Vantage score.

    The fact that the 3 major CRA’s are the creators of the VantageScore could be nightmare for some consumers. The CRA’s know first hand about people trying to dispute accurate negative accounts, as well as negative accounts that are accurate but being deleted because of “pay for delete” negotiations, which is something the CRA’s don’t like. They are aware of all the loop-holes that consumers try to take advantage of.

    You can be sure that this is only one of a number of factors that they have taken into account to determine your VantageScore.


  12. EDL July 19, 2013 at 5:42PM

    It is infuriating. I worked so hard to bring up my credit score to what is considered a good credit score, but according to the Vantage score, it’s not good. Not only that, but now there are auto insurance scores and homeowners insurance scores. This has to stop.

    What does the future hold? Fifteen different scores for everything they can think of?

    I don’t understand how I can even gauge my credit score now. I should qualify for a home loan under the FICO but not the Vantage. How can I even have the confidence to apply for a home loan if I can’t even gauge which score they will use? It’s not fair to people who are trying to rebuild their credit.

    It’s all about saving money? It figures. Why on earth would we expect them to be fair?

    • Drexann October 19, 2014 at 9:50PM

      I’m going thru the same thing I paid $29.95 for all 3 bureaus and I get a damn vantage score I didn’t ask for that anyway I am trying to purchase a home myself but scared to apply not sure what score they will use.

  13. JT April 29, 2013 at 6:18PM

    Don’t bother buying a Vantage score, it’s just a get-rich-quicker scheme… a market in itself.

  14. Landry December 9, 2012 at 11:27PM

    My FICO Score is 750, but vantage score is only 767. Just for your reference. I think i got too much type of credit and that is the reason.

    • DMC June 30, 2014 at 6:17PM

      My FICO is 780 and my on time payments is 100%. Vantage has found a way to down grade my score to a 737 which = a C in their book. On Karma my score is made up of the three reporting agencies. Why in the world should we have a Vantage score? The advantage goes to the creditors – who, given the choice of a FICO over Vantage score will likely go with which score can justify charging a higher rate of interest to the consumer. The “house” always wins.

  15. Tricia October 14, 2012 at 8:36AM

    The trouble with paying for your FICO is that it isn’t the one they sell to the banks when you’re applying for a loan. i.e. you check your score before applying for a mortgage, think it’s okay, only to find out the score they gave the bank was significantly lower.

    • nick June 19, 2013 at 10:02AM

      How do you know that and is there a way to attain the actual score?

    • khani March 21, 2014 at 2:59PM

      I discovered this to be true when I applied for a mortgage loan. I paid to see my actual credit score so I would know where I stand–which was pretty good. But when I talked to the lender, they have a different score than what I had. We both have confirmed that we are looking at the supposedly same score. It was very frustrating since it meant I got a higher mortgage rate based on the credit score the lender got.

  16. Carole October 2, 2012 at 11:02AM

    Regarding VantageScore… Experian and TransUnion are using it but not Equifax. I discovered today, after much time on the phone, that Experian excludes my credit cards that are identified to them as flexible spending accounts. These are in fact VISA and MC credit cards issued by Chase Bank but they have a flexible limit. Experian excludes them from the VantageScore. However, TransUnion does in fact include them in the VantageScore. So, even though my credit reports by these two companies are identical for reported information they differ in the resulting VantageScore by 164 points !!! One would expect if using the same model that the same inclusion rules would apply.

    • John November 28, 2012 at 1:59PM

      True Statement.

  17. JC September 5, 2012 at 9:34PM

    The proposed formula for converting Vantagescore to FICO (V * 0.86 = F) is inherently flawed. Let’s forget the fact that the two systems use different elements of your credit report and assign different weights to them to come up with a score. Even if that part of the methodology were the same, the two systems not only have a different maximum score but a different range of scores as well. With Vantage the range is 501-990, a 489 point spread. With FICO it’s 300 to 850, a 550 point spread. That’s a 61 point difference, which means that a single point in Vantage has a value of around 112.5% of that of a single point in FICO (550 / 489 = 1.1247 or 112.5%).

    To convert from Vantage to FICO we should first subtract the minimum Vantagescore of 501 to determine where in the 489 point range the score falls, multiply that result by the Vantage-to-FICO point ratio to see where the score falls in the 550 point FICO range, and finally add the minimum FICO score. So the formula would be:

    F = ((V – 501) * (550 / 489)) + 300

    Using this formula a perfect Vantagescore of 990 would translate to an 850 FICO. You could also reverse the formula to translate FICO to Vantage:

    V = ((F – 300) * (489 / 550)) + 501

    Of course, since the scoring methodologies for the two scoring systems are quite different none of this really matters much. The math is just fun.

    • Josh April 19, 2013 at 12:03PM

      Yeah this is way off. My Vantage score is 685 and FICO is 625. By your calculation my FICO is 507. Math IS fun… unless you’re really wrong.

    • John February 23, 2015 at 6:16PM

      Ok I have 776 vantage score what’s my FICO equivalent please ?

  18. billy jones August 9, 2012 at 9:39PM

    Good article, Michael.

  19. PJ February 8, 2012 at 6:34AM

    I checked my VantageScore first and had a 871 there. Since I have always depended on FICO, using the simple math that other websites mentioned, it translated to 747 (871*0.86) on FICO. I knew my score was higher than that and so I paid to get my FICO score – which was 797 ( I really wanted that 800…lol)
    So a simple extrapolation of the scores would not work – as rightly mentioned by CreditCardGuru

    I would not pay for my Vantage score. Thanks for the article.

  20. Bernice Boyer January 3, 2012 at 7:02PM

    I was not aware there was a different credit scoring system. Thank you for enlightening me. CreditCardForum is helping me so much.

    • Salty November 19, 2014 at 12:39PM

      Why would banks put the Vantage scoring system into play? Knowing it reflects a higher score especially for someone like me who has tried really hard to get my credit on the right path over the last three years. They’d rather hammer someone with interest if at all possible and if you use a system that reflects a lower score and takes a longer period of time to mend they’ll always have the upper hand.

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