It is no secret that FICO is king when it comes to credit scoring models. The vast 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.
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.