Each of us has three credit reports housed by the three major credit reporting agencies; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. And, for most of us those three credit files are scoreable.
Most lenders will make decisions using just one of our credit bureau risk scores.
That means when you apply for a credit card or an auto loan, the lender is going to buy one of your three credit reports and one of your three FICO scores (or, less frequently, one of your three VantageScores) to make their lending decision.
The only exception to the “one report for one loan” rule is in the mortgage environment. the mortgage lender will almost always pull all three of your credit reports, all three of your FICO scores, and then base their decision on your middle score.
How Widely Your Scores Can Range
Each of your credit scores is going to be different, primarily because the information in our credit files is never 100 percent identical.
Additionally, because of the common lending practice of only pulling one credit score, it’s almost a guarantee that lenders are going to see different numbers for us depending one which of our three credit reports they happen to purchase.
For example, my FICO scores vary by 24 points from my highest score to my lowest.
My highest score is based on my Equifax data and my lowest is based on my TransUnion data. This means if I applied for any loan outside of a mortgage and the lender pulled my TransUnion credit report they’d see my lowest FICO score. If that “lowest” score fell below the lender’s risk threshold, I could be denied the loan or approved but with less advantageous terms.
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