What Credit Score Are You Purchasing?

If you are planning to apply for a mortgage, car loan, or other type of credit soon, you may have thought that purchasing your credit score would be a financially sensible thing to do. Indeed, your credit score is one of the main factors that determine whether your application is approved and the interest rate you receive. If you know that you have a low score, and why your score is low, that can help you make improvements to strengthen your application. However, before you whip out your debit or credit card to buy that score, it is important to be aware of what you are actually purchasing.

A "credit score" is simply a generic term that refers to a numerical representation of the assessed risk of lending to you. There are many different types of credit scores out there, with different ranges and ways of assessing risk. The chart below lists scores that are available for consumer purchase.

FICO
Range 300-850
Factors Used to Calculate: Payment history (35%), balances owed/ credit utilization (30%), length of credit history (15%), pursuit of new credit (10%), and types of credit in use (10%)
Where to Buy: Fair Isaac
Equifax

VantageScore
Range 501-990
Factors Used to Calculate: Payment history (32%), credit utilization (23%), balances owed (15%), variety and length and of credit history (13%), pursuit of new credit (10%), available credit (7%)
Where to Buy: Experian
Transunion

PLUS
Range 330-830
Factors Used to Calculate: Not released
Where to Buy: Experian

The most popular model among lenders is the FICO score – or a derivative of it. However, keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the score you see will be the exact same one the lender sees. There are different versions of the FICO score available (e.g., one for mortgage lenders, one for auto lenders), and your credit score will also fluctuate as new information is added to your credit report.

Perhaps more helpful than the three little numbers you receive is the information that is provided with it – in addition to getting the score, you will also be told what factors are responsible for lowering your score. It is not necessary to spend cash to gauge the strength of your credit history (you can access your credit report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com, and there is a plethora of free information on-line on how you can improve your credit standing) but some people feel it is worth it to shell out a couple of bucks for their credit score.

Knowing what you are getting can help you make an informed decision about if and where you should purchase your credit score.

Content provided by our trusted partner  HawaiiUSA FCU & Balance, your financial literacy partners
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