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Q&A with FICO on why credit scores differ

Credit Cards » Q&A with FICO on why credit scores differ

Barry Paperno serves as consumer affairs manager for and community manager for the myFICO Forums online community. He has assisted consumers and advised lenders on FICO credit scoring for the past 16 years.

Before joining FICO, Barry managed consumer operations for Experian Information Solutions. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from California State University, East Bay.

Barry Paperno

Barry Paperno

Have you ever checked your credit score? You may have faced a startling revelation: There's more than just one credit score. You may have seen brand-name scores such as FICO or VantageScore, or other generic credit scores lenders don't actually use. Even buying your credit score from the three major credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- may have turned up three different numbers.

The reasons for the variations are numerous. Your credit score can vary from bureau to bureau because of differences in credit report data. It also depends on the scoring model used.

Those variances hold true when it comes to the FICO score, a brand of credit score commonly used by lenders. A FICO score is a three-digit number based on your credit report that represents your risk of becoming seriously delinquent in the next 24 months.

In his second Q&A with on credit scores, Barry Paperno, consumer affairs manager at, explains the different types of FICO credit scores out there and how they differ from the scores consumers can buy.

What other types of FICO credit scores do lenders have access to?

There are three credit bureaus. For each bureau's scores, we have variations on the score that zero in on a particular credit product; for example, for bank card or auto lending. What we do is we provide the basic broad-based FICO score that we've been talking about. And then for a credit card lender, they may order what's called the bank card industry option score, which takes the basic formula and tweaks certain information that can do a better job of predicting how a consumer will pay that type of account.

When we get into these industry option scores, it's looking at, for example, the likelihood you will pay your credit card on time or that you will pay your auto loan on time. It gives additional emphasis to, say, credit card information in that score or auto (information) in the auto score. So, those are variations on the FICO score and those are available at each bureau. But they are very similar to the broad-based score just with some slight differences.


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