There are so many credit scores out there nowadays that it’s easy to get confused as to which one is your “real,” or accurate, score.
TransUnion uses what is called a VantageScore, which is the first credit score model created in partnership among all three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
TransUnion VantageScore is in fact accurate — based on that credit score model. This is where things get a bit tricky, but we’ll explain as simply as possible.
TransUnion is Accurate, But May Conflict with Other Scores
The only way your TransUnion credit score wouldn’t be accurate is if you found errors on your TransUnion credit report, which would in turn affect your credit score.
You can check your TransUnion score and report directly from TransUnion for $1. This also includes a 7-day trial of their credit monitoring services.
Now, different credit scores use different scoring methods. For example, the VantageScore credit score is based on a scale from 500 to 990 – whereas FICO (the original credit scoring model created by Fair Isaac Corporation) is based on a scale from 300 to 850.
VantageScore also weights each factor differently than FICO, as you can see below.
Technically, credit scores are accurate according to wherever you get them from (unless there are errors on your credit reports that you need to dispute).
So, the question you’re really asking is, Which score do lenders use?
FICO is the Most Widely-Used Credit Score by Lenders
Since there are so many free credit score options out there, you should know that FICO is the most widely-used credit score among lenders.
In fact, 90 percent of lenders check FICO Scores rather than any other types of credit scores. So if you’re looking to take out a loan anytime soon, we recommend checking your FICO Score.
You can purchase your FICO credit score and report from each credit bureau individually for $19.95 or all three credit bureaus scores and reports for $59.85.
The Difference Between FICO & “Educational” Credit Scores
Credit scoring has gotten unnecessarily complicated over the years, but there are many companies in existence today whose entire foundations are based on demystifying credit for regular people who don’t write about finances all day (ahem).
These companies — such as Mint, Credit Sesame, and Quizzle — can show you your credit score as well as recommendations for improving your credit, all in easy-to-read laymen’s terms.
In the finance industry, however, anything that isn’t a FICO credit score is generally regarded as an “educational” credit score. This means their purpose is to help you get a ballpark estimate of where your credit stands — and it’s also why they’re free.
The Bottom Line
Check your FICO Score, but use a free service like Mint to see your “educational” credit scores and reports year-round. This is the easiest way to stay on top of your credit and monitor changes to your credit reports.