Chances are, your credit score is different depending on the credit bureau you pulled it from. Most lenders and creditors use the FICO score to make decisions, but each major credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) calculates the FICO score slightly differently. They might not even be using the same data for you.
Credit scores impact your mortgage rates, loan eligibility, and more, so you’ll want to find the easiest ways to improve your score. Here’s how credit scores are calculated, what to do if your scores are different, and how to boost your credit!
Calculating FICO Scores
Each credit bureau uses a slightly different FICO scoring model, so it’s important to get to know the key factors. Your FICO score ranges from 300 to 850 – the higher, the better. It has 5 core components:
Do you pay your bills on time? Lenders want to know how you’ve historically handled debt obligations before they offer you credit cards or loans. Be sure to make your payments on time, because payment history accounts for 35 percent of your FICO score.
The good news is it’s not the end of the world if you miss a credit card or loan payment by a few days – the creditor or lender won’t report the delinquency until the account is 30 or more days past due.
What percentage of your total credit limit do you use? This ratio of balance used to available credit is known as your credit card utilization. To have the best shot at a higher credit score, you want to keep this percentage at 30 percent or lower.
Length of credit history
How long have you been using credit? An established track record helps you get a solid credit score. It might seem counterintuitive, but even if you barely use an old credit card, try not to close the account. You might have to keep it active with small charges so your credit card company doesn’t close a dormant account. The length of credit history accounts for 15% of your score.
Each time you apply for a new credit account, credit reports record a hard credit inquiry that can knock a few points off your score. Too many new accounts in a short span place a bigger dent in your FICO score. Lenders see these borrowers as higher risk, especially if they haven’t had a long credit history.
You should have a healthy mix of revolving (i.e., credit cards) and installment (i.e., loans) debt. Credit mix makes up 10 percent of your FICO score.
What to do If your credit scores are different
Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand you can wave to make all your credit scores the same. Different lenders report to different credit bureaus, the credit reports could be from separate dates, or the scoring models might be distinct.
Even so, you can take action to ensure this three-digit number is as high as it can be across the board. Take a look at these tips to quickly boost your credit score.
Easy ways to improve your credit score
Whether you have bad credit or no credit at all, you have a few options for improving your score.
Credit Builder Plus Membership
Credit Builder Plus is a powerful membership designed to help you build or rebuild credit. Even if you have no credit history or have less than perfect credit, you can qualify because there’s no hard credit check or hefty deposit requirement.
Most loan recipients boost their score by 60 or more points in the first 60 days. Plus, the full-featured membership includes credit monitoring tools, 0% APR InstacashSM access, plus exclusive rewards.
Here’s how it works:
- Download the MoneyLion app on your smartphone.
- Create your customized profile and link your bank account.
- Complete and submit the Credit Builder Plus application.
- Get a quick response and accept your loan offer.
Wondering if you qualify? You may be eligible for a Credit Builder loan if you have a bank account in your name that’s at least 60 days old and in good standing. The account activity should also reflect a steady stream of income. Don’t worry if you’re temporarily out of work – benefit checks are acceptable.
It only takes a few minutes to apply. You can get started here and have access to a portion of the loan proceeds in just minutes. The remainder of the funds will still be yours; they’re saved in an interest-earning Credit Reserve Account until the loan is paid in full).
Even better, payment activity is reported to the 3 credit bureaus each month to help build your credit rating.
Fix errors in your credit report
More than one-third of Americans find at least one error in their credit report. Common errors include closed accounts reported as open, incorrect accounts, or inaccurately reported delinquent accounts.
If you dispute an error, credit bureaus usually have 30 days to investigate. In some cases, it can take up to 45 days if you submit new materials during the investigation or use AnnualCreditReport.com.
Make on time payments
Since payment history is the most important factor in credit scoring, it pays not to fall behind on payments! Set email or calendar alerts so that you don’t miss your payments, and set up auto payment where possible.
Reduce credit usage ratio
Credit utilization is one of those factors that few people pay much attention to. But if you are constantly charging amounts to the same credit card and getting close to your credit limit, you could hurt your credit score.
If you’re serious about improving credit, you can keep tabs on your credit limits. Pay off debt if it gets close to the limit. Experts recommend keeping your credit use lower than 30% of available credit. If you have more than one credit card, try to spread out your balances.
A better credit score can support your goals
Finding out that you have different credit scores is not unusual. Not all scoring algorithms are the same, and lenders don’t always share data with every credit bureau. If you understand how to manage your debt and take a few easy steps, you can kick-start a boost in scores across the board.
Credit Builder Plus membership is designed to set you on the right track from the start. It can help you build credit from scratch, save money and put a little cash in your pocket. Apply today to improve your access to credit and support your financial goals.
Which credit report is most accurate?
Lean on the credit reports from the three credit bureaus. If considerable differences exist, review them to see if a lender or creditor failed to send important activity to one of the bureaus.
Why did my credit score go down when nothing changed?
Credit scores decline for various reasons. Some people see their credit scores take a dip soon after becoming debt free.
What is an average credit score?
According to Experian, the average credit score rose to 711 in 2020. The average credit score varies across bureaus. Focus on raising your credit score, and you could find yourself with an above-average credit score.