FICO Score 8 and Other Versions of Credit Score
What’s your FICO score? No matter what you respond, your answer will be wrong – or at least incomplete – because FICO actually has several scores for each score holder. In fact, FICO, the metric for consumer credit scoring introduced by engineer William Fair and mathematician Earl Isaac in 1956, has evolved from one general score into myriad specific scores that measure different behaviors with credit and debt.
Of course, the real aim of FICO is to measure and predict the risk of a consumer defaulting on a particular debt or account, so FICO’s scoring models have blossomed just as much as consumer debt. With the latest versions, individual lenders and potential lenders have access to more information than ever before to quantify the creditworthiness of a customer.
But just because there are different versions of FICO available, it doesn’t mean that lenders have to use the newest generation scoring model, or any in particular.
“As an analogy, it is similar to how people or businesses are on different versions of Microsoft Windows or have different generations of a smart phone,” reads an information report by MyFico.com. “All these versions have the same base functionality, but each version also has unique updated features to meet evolving user needs.”
So every time FICO puts out a new version of their credit risk scoring model, it doesn’t render past versions obsolete, but reflects advancements in technology and consumer credit behavior, helping to fine tune the science of credit behavioral prediction that helps lenders make more “informed credit decisions.”
So where are we now with FICO?
myFICO.com includes all versions of their FICO Score products, including the latest, FICO® Score 9.
But FICO® Score 8 (FICO 8) is still the version most widely used by lenders, in part because it takes them months or even years to update their systems and integrate a new scoring model. What are the differences? FICO 8 is more sensitive to high-traffic credit cards, so if you use your cards a lot and keep high balances, your credit score is more likely to reflect that with a score drop.
However, the latest and greatest FICO scoring version, FICO® Score 9, is being called the most predictive FICO Score to date. Updates over the previous version include the fact that third-party collections that have already been paid off won’t negatively affect your score, medical collections and unpaid medical debt won’t impact your score as much as other types of debt, and rental history factors into your credit score when it’s being reported.
Aside from FICO® Score 8 and 9, there are also Industry-specific FICO® Scores that cater to lenders looking to make decisions about auto loans, credit cards, or a specific kind of debt obligation.
Here’s a simplified snapshot of the most commonly used FICO scoring versions for the three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion:
Most widely used versions:
Experian: FICO® Score 8
Equifax: FICO® Score 8
TransUnion: FICO® Score 8
Version used in mortgage lending:
Experian: FICO® Score 2
Equifax: FICO® Score 5
TransUnion: FICO® Score 4
Version used in credit card decision-making:
Experian: FICO® Bankcard Score 8, FICO® Score 3, FICO® Bankcard Score 2
Equifax: FICO® Bankcard Score 8, FICO® Bankcard Score 5
TransUnion: FICO® Bankcard Score 8, FICO® Bankcard Score 4
Version used in auto lending:
Experian: FICO® Auto Score 8, FICO® Auto Score 2
Equifax: FICO® Auto Score 8, FICO® Auto Score 5
TransUnion: FICO® Auto Score 8, FICO® Auto Score 4
Newly released version:
Experian: FICO® Score 9, FICO® Auto Score 9, FICO® Bankcard Score 9
Equifax: FICO® Score 9, FICO® Auto Score 9, FICO® Bankcard Score 9
TransUnion: FICO® Score 9, FICO® Auto Score 9, FICO® Bankcard Score 9
The fundamentals of good credit score are the same:
But no matter which version of your FICO score you’re looking at – or a lender is looking at to gauge your creditworthiness and risk of default – the fundamentals of good credit management are always the same:
Pay bills on time and avoid late payments
Don’t max out credit cards or accounts
Pay your debts off or as low as possible
Don’t open new credit frequently or recklessly
Check your credit periodically for incorrect, outdated or erroneous activity