August 25, 2015

What is the Highest Credit Score and the Three Main Credit Scores?

With so many credit scores available to consumers, businesses, lenders, and credit bureaus many people wonder what the highest credit score is and what types of credit scores are the most important.  The answer to this question depends on the credit scoring scale used by the person or company making lending, employment or insurance decisions.  There are many credit scores available for sale, each with its own credit score range and ratings.

Highest Possible Credit Score For Credit Score Ranges

There are many types of credit scores used in consumer lending that include both generic and custom credit scores.  Generic scores are used under the same formula for all three credit bureaus and are purchased by lenders and companies to assess general risk.  Custom credit scores, on the other hand are created for use by specific lenders who base decisions on their own borrowing history with a client.  While the highest credit score is dependent on the type of scoring system used, both major types of credit scores are helpful to those in the position to make decisions about risk. 

Check Credit Score For Free

To obtain your annual credit score from each of the three credit bureaus for free, go to www.annualcreditreport.com.

Three Main Credit Scores-Among the credit scores available for use by lenders, the three main scores consist of the major credit bureau numerical scores assigned to consumer credit reports.  Each of the three bureaus provides either FICO scores, VantageScores, or independent credit bureau scores (created solely by the credit reporting agency).

VantageScore-This particular scoring model was developed by each of the three main credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian in collaboration.  Scores range from 501 to 990 and are assigned letter grades based on their degree of risk.

A: 900–990

B: 800–899

C: 700–799

D: 600–699

F: 501–599

The highest credit score possible for VantageScores is 990.  The VantageScore product is marketed to lenders as a tool to help them more easily make lending decisions for consumers with a poor credit history or no credit history.  While VantageScore provides greater consistency between credit bureau scores some people believe that the scoring model was developed in order to compete with the monopoly the Fair Isaac Corporation has with the more commonly used FICO score in the credit and lending industry.  Some lenders prefer to purchase VantageScores in addition to FICO scores to get a more complete reading on a consumer’s creditworthiness. 

FICO Score-The FICO credit score ratings model was created first by the Fair Isaac Corporation in 1960 for use rating consumer credit.  The numeric scoring system rates consumer credit on a scale from 300 to 850.  Under FICO, 850 is the highest credit score available to consumers.

Experian Score-Experian Corporation is a credit-reporting agency that uses a scale where credit scores range from 330 to 830.  This scale assigns consumers a best credit score of 830.

Equifax Score-The Equifax Corporation is a credit bureau that creates a credit scoring system based on a credit score range from 280 to 850.  The scoring algorithm is proprietary to Equifax only with 850 being the highest score reported.

Why are my credit scores different?

When you check your credit score, you may notice a difference between credit bureaus. All credit scores are based on a combination of similar criteria that may be weighted differently depending on the scoring model.  This naturally affects the final scores once each of the areas is factored.  Even when the same scoring system is used by each of the three major credit bureaus, the 3 credit scores can be different.  This is because each creditor or utility company that a consumer does business with does not necessarily report information to each of the credit reporting agencies.  Companies choose which agencies they will subscribe to depending on pricing and packaging for their particular institution.

With the wide variety of credit scoring models and systems available to consumers and lenders, it’s important to recognize the differences between the various scoring products.  Banks, credit unions, retailers, insurance companies and landlords all use credit scores to predict risk when making financial decisions for prospective clients and customers.  Knowing which credit score will be used to determine your creditworthiness is critical for the best money management of your financial future.