Who Calculates Your Credit Score?

by: holli casto
vp of training and development
Published 3/06/2024

Your credit score is an essential part of your financial well-being. That said, do you know who is actually calculating your credit score and keeping track of your credit? As you know, or can read about here, your credit score is based on multiple factors in your financial history. That said, in order for lenders to find your credit history, they rely on credit bureaus and reporting agencies to provide them with it.  

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Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion: The Three Major Credit Bureaus 

There are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. These different bureaus receive information about your credit history and compile your credit history. Your creditors may report to different lenders, and your creditors may check reports from different bureaus. Furthermore, while these are the largest credit bureaus, they are by no means not the only credit bureaus.  

These credit bureaus take your credit report and calculate your credit score. While lenders report to these bureaus, you can also engage with them in a few ways. First, you can get your credit report and score from them. Next, you can actually freeze your credit with the credit bureaus. Freezing your credit score is a fraud prevention method where the credit bureaus will not share your information with any other organizations. This makes it more difficult for scammers to access your credit report and apply for credit in your name if some of your personal information has been compromised. That said, if you are applying for credit, you will need to unfreeze your credit so that your lender can access your credit as well.  

Why is there more than one credit bureau? 

There are multiple credit bureaus to ensure competition and prevent monopoly. While it may seem frustrating that your data is kept at so many different places, it is actually a good thing that there isn't just one organization that is the steward of your credit. This ensures each of these organizations have to continue to improve their reporting models and provide borrowers with honest reporting. 

Understanding FICO Scores and VantageScores 

Along with the three credit bureaus, you've probably also heard of FICO scores. Frequently, the term FICO score and credit score are used interchangeably. Your FICO score is a three digit number that can range from 300 to 850. In its essence, FICO, short for Fair, Isaacs, and Co, is another credit reporting agency. FICO is just one of the most popular scoring models used by lenders, using their own proprietary scoring model that they do not share to produce a score. You can see your FICO score as a soft inquiry by visiting myfico.com. 

The VantageScore, which was jointly developed by the three major credit bureaus, is becoming more popular. VantageScore is FICO's biggest competitor and similarly takes multiple bureaus data into account to calculate your score, which also ranges from 300 to 850.  

Your score may vary between these two agencies because their scoring models differ. Furthermore, they may not pull all the data from all three bureaus to pull their scores.  

Read: How to Build and Improve Your Credit Score

How Lenders Use These Agencies 

Different lenders will pull scores from different agencies for different purposes. Mortgage lenders will pull more rigorous reports, most likely from all three agencies, to see your full credit history due to the intensive nature of a mortgage loan. Meanwhile, smaller loans, like personal loans and auto loans, may just pull from a single agency.  

As a whole, this information can be a lot to take in, but the most important thing to remember is that your credit score is made up of your information. Luckily, now there are a lot of great ways to keep track of your credit score so you won't be caught off guard next time you apply for a loan. This includes services like My Credit Journey, which provides you with your VantageScore through Transunion.  

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This is for educational purposes only and not financial advice.