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The Newest Credit Scoring Model: VantageScore 4.0


The Newest Credit Scoring Model: VantageScore 4.0

To many people, FICO is king when it comes to credit scoring models. The majority of lenders, most notably those in the mortgage industry, rely either exclusively or at least heavily upon FICO scores as they evaluate the credit worthiness of new applicants for financing. However, with the introduction of VantageScore 4.0 in the fall of 2017 many lenders are starting to pay a bit more attention to this newest arrival to the world of credit scoring.

In truth, VantageScore Solutions (the company which creates and sells VantageScore credit scores) is not so new. It is only new when compared with the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). VantageScore Solutions, founded by the 3 major credit reporting agencies themselves in 2006, is actually over a decade old. 

Yet most lenders still prefer FICO scores. FICO was initially founded in 1956 and created its first credit scoring system in 1958. The credit bureaus themselves began to adopt FICO credit bureau risk scores between 1981 (Equifax) and 1991. According to FICO its scores are currently used by 95% of the largest financial institutions in the country.

VantageScore 4.0

Though the company is already dominate in direct-to-consumer credit score sales, VantageScore Solutions has been fighting for over a decade to dip further and further into FICO's lender-purchased credit score market share. This goal is achieved by convincing more and more lenders to purchase VantageScore's credit scores to use for risk analysis in prospecting, account management, and application reviews. The roll out of the 4th generation of its scoring model in the fall of 2017 will be just one more step toward this goal, but might be better described as a giant leap instead of a step.

The reason the release of VantageScore 4.0 is such big news is because it will be the first credit scoring model to consider trended data in the calculation of consumer credit scores.  Trended data, added to credit reports several years ago, allows credit card issuers to report a 24 month history of historical balances and payment amounts made by their customers. This historical data can show future lenders whether you are truly someone who pays off your credit card balances in full each month (aka a transactor) or whether you are in the habit of revolving an outstanding balance from one month to the next (aka a revolver).

Revolvers, especially minimum payers (consumers who only pay the minimum payment due on their credit card bills) represent a higher level of risk to lenders. In fact, according to a study conducted by Experian, minimum payers are 6 times more likely to have a future delinquency than transactors. TransUnion's study on trended data found that revolvers represent between 3 to 5 times more risk than transactors.

Including trended data in VantageScore 4.0 gives this new scoring model increased predictive power over previous generations of VantageScore and, arguably, FICO scoring models as well. In other words, this new scoring model is being touted as a more reliable way to predict credit risk. Predicting risk, after all, is why lenders purchase credit scores in the first place.

Advice for Consumers

Because of recent changes in credit reporting, especially the upcoming removal of many tax liens and judgments from credit reports and the removal of many medical collections as well, lenders and credit score developers are going to begin paying more attention to alternative credit data which is also predictive. It has always been important to pay off your credit card balances in full each month both from a credit scoring perspective and also from a financial perspective as well. However, with the consideration of trended data now in the works the importance of paying off your credit card balances has multiplied exponentially.

Of course implementing a new credit scoring model is very expensive for lenders. Due to the high cost it will likely be years before a majority of lenders begin using VantageScore 4.0. The same can be assumed for any yet unannounced but potentially forthcoming new releases from FICO which consider trended data for that matter.

As a result consumers do not necessarily have to worry about trended data impacting their credit scores for a while. Still, remember that when credit scoring models which consider trended data are finally adopted by lenders those models will be looking back at a 24 month history of your credit card payments. This means that the time to develop the habit of paying off your credit card balances monthly is now.



Michelle Black is an author and leading credit expert with over a decade and a half of experience, a recognized credit expert on talk shows and podcasts nationwide, and a regularly featured speaker at seminars across the country. She is an expert on improving credit scores, budgeting, and identity theft. You can connect with Michelle on the HOPE4USA Facebook page by clicking here.


Scorecards: Why It Might Be Impossible for You to Earn an 850 Credit Score


Scorecards: Why It Might Be Impossible for You to Earn an 850 Credit Score

Credit scores run the world. Okay, maybe that is an overstatement, but the truth is that your credit scores will have a massive influence over your life. In fact, your credit scores exert nearly as much control over the financial quality of your life as does your income.

If you are wise then you already know that learning what it takes to keep your credit reports and scores in stellar shape is a very important goal - one of the most important wealth building goals you can make for yourself. Yet if you are a natural born overachiever and are shooting for the stars with your credit scores you might find yourself a bit disappointed. Achieving the ever elusive perfect credit score of 850 might actually be downright impossible for you right now thanks to a not-so-well known component of credit scoring models - the scorecard.    

What Is a Credit Scorecard?

Behind the scenes of every credit scoring model there are multiple scorecards at work. Scorecards evaluate the information on your credit reports and turn that information into credit score points which are added up and delivered to a lender in the form of a credit score. The way that scorecards evaluate the information on your credit reports is by asking questions - questions such as "Are there any late payments present?" The answers to these questions are known as "characteristics." If the answer to the previous question about the presence of late payments was "yes" then you would earn less points to be added to your overall credit score than those which you would earn if the answer to the question was "no."

Scorecards are the nuts and bolts of a credit scoring system. They set the rules for how your credit scores are calculated. Without scorecards it would be impossible for a lender to ever get a copy of your credit scores.

How Different Scorecards Impact You

As mentioned above, every major credit scoring model features multiple scorecards. Depending upon the information contained in your credit reports you are assigned a specific scorecard each time your credit scores are calculated. When FICO releases a new credit scoring model, such as the most recently released FICO 9, what most consumers and even financial professionals do not realize is that - thanks to the existence of scorecards inside of the scoring model - all consumers credit reports are not graded according to the exact same scale. Instead, scorecards will separate consumers into like or homogenous groups and those groups will have their credit reports scored differently.

For example, there are separate scorecards for consumers who have filed bankruptcy or those who have delinquencies (late payments) present on their reports. There are scorecards for consumers with thin or young credit files (not many accounts) and files for consumers without delinquencies as well. While FICO and VantageScore do not disclose the actual types or numbers of scorecards working behind the scenes of their credit scoring models, it would not be unusual for there to be 10 or more scorecards in existence for a single credit scoring model.

The most common credit scoring range for consumers, especially for the most popular FICO and VantageScore scoring models, is 300 - 850. Therefore, if you ask were to ask most credit experts what is the highest credit score you could possibly earn you would probably receive "850" as an answer. Not so fast. 850 may be the highest credit score available, but that does not necessarily mean that an 850 is available to you, at least not at immediately. If you have a bankruptcy on your credit reports, for example, then you would find yourself being scored by a bankruptcy scorecard.

Scorecards designed for those with derogatory information do not have the same maximum credit score possibility, 850, as those scorecards without any derogatory information would have. As a result, if you did have a past bankruptcy on your credit reports then achieving an 850 credit score would be impossible for you until the bankruptcy (and any other derogatory information) was removed and your report was able to be scored by a scorecard which actually included an 850 maximum credit score as an option.

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Michelle Black is an author and leading credit expert with over 13 years of experience, the credit blogger at, a recognized credit expert on talk shows and podcasts nationwide, and a regularly featured speaker at seminars up and down the East Coast. She is an expert on improving credit scores, budgeting, and identity theft. You can connect with Michelle on the HOPE4USA Facebook page by clicking here.