Is my credit score accurate? What you need to know and how to check it

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Your credit score is a very important three-digit number that lenders use to decide whether or not to give you credit, and at what price and on what terms. Credit scores are calculated based on information from your credit report – financial records such as your payment history, inquiries, bankruptcies, closed accounts, and balances.

When checking to see if your credit score is “accurate,” there are two key factors to consider: 1) Is your credit report accurate? 2) Are you looking for the same credit score as your potential lender? Credit scores vary depending on the credit report used to calculate the score, as well as the scoring model and version.

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1) Is your credit report accurate?

Errors in your credit report, such as an incorrect late payment or an unrecognized account, can lead to errors in your credit score since information from your credit report is used to calculate your score.

Regularly monitor your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, to make sure there are no errors. You can access your credit report for free via

2) Are you and the potential lender looking for the same score?

There was probably a time when you went to check your credit score in one place, only to be surprised later when the lender pulls a different credit score to decide whether to approve you for new credit. In addition to the fact that you and the lender may be looking at different credit scoring models, you may also be looking at different versions of credit reporting within each model.

The two main credit scoring models used by lenders are FICO® Score and VantageScore®, which typically range from 300 to 850. Both scoring models are calculated using your payment history, amounts owed (or percentage of credit limit used), length of your credit history , the frequency of your credit inquiries and your credit mix. Both models also have different versions, such as FICO Score 8 versus FICO Score 3 or VantageScore 3.0 versus VantageScore 4.0, for example. There may be different scores for different types of loans, such as mortgages versus car loans.

“There are literally hundreds of different credit scores,” Rod Griffin, senior director of public education and advocacy at Experian, told Select. Lenders, however, are not required to tell potential borrowers what credit scores they will assess, he adds. Before you apply for credit, it’s worth asking a potential lender to see if they’ll tell you what credit score they’ll check when deciding whether or not to approve you.

Either way, it’s a good idea for consumers to check both their FICO and their VantageScore before applying for credit to get a good idea of ​​their overall standing.

Here’s where to check your FICO score

Experian Boost™

On Experian’s secure site

  • Cost

  • Average increase in credit score

    13 points, although results vary

  • Affected credit report

  • Credit score model used

Here’s where to check your VantageScore

VantageScores are widely used by credit card issuers, secondarily by installment lenders and fintech lenders. According its website, nine of the top 10 banks, 29 of the top 100 credit unions, and more than 2,200 financial institutions have used VantageScore credit scores in one or more industries.

Here’s where to check your VantageScore:

Check out this list of other free VantageScore providers through personal finance websites like Credit Karma.

Chase Credit Journey

  • Cost

  • Credit bureaus monitored

  • Credit score model used

  • Dark web analysis

  • Identity theft insurance

Capital One CreditWise®

Information on CreditWise was independently collected by CNBC and was not reviewed or provided by the company prior to publication.

  • Cost

  • Credit bureaus monitored

  • Credit score model used

  • Dark web analysis

  • Identity Insurance

At the end of the line

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit report for any errors that could affect your credit score. And, before applying for credit, be sure to check both your FICO score and your VantageScore. See if the lender will tell you what score and version they will use to assess you for approval.

Check out Select’s in-depth coverage at personal finance, technology and tools, The well-being and more, and follow us on Facebook, instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

*Results may vary. Some may not see an improvement in scores or approval ratings. Not all lenders use Experian credit reports, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

Editorial note: Any opinions, analyses, criticisms or recommendations expressed in this article are those of Select’s editorial staff only and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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