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With Your Credit Score, What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

June 7th, 2013 · No Comments · Credit Scores

Meredith Simonds

by Meredith Simonds

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If you’re thinking about applying for a new line of credit, it’s natural to want to be sure your credit score is in good shape. But unlike credit reports, we aren’t entitled to one free viewing of our credit scores every year. So we pay good money to get the goods, only to learn that lenders often use different scores than the ones we’re privy to.

As we are reminded by Consumer Reports, FICO has dozens of different scoring models. But lenders aren’t even limited to those. In fact, there are hundreds of scoring models out there and you never know which one a lender is going to use. That said, you can ask to see the score your potential lender uses to rate your credit-worthiness. If based on other scores you’ve seen, you feel this score is particularly low (i.e., not fair), request an explanation for why you have been scored so low.

One Consumer Reports representative says that, for this reason, it’s not worth paying to see your credit score. Instead, they emphasize the importance of monitoring your credit reports for accuracy. Still, it’s nice to have some ballpark idea of what your score looks like, even if it varies by twenty points or more across different scoring models. It can be especially helpful to keep track of your score if and when you are rebuilding your credit, monitoring the effectiveness of the debt validation process, for example.

Have you had experience in which a lender used a score far different than what you expected to see?

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