Your Ultimate Guide to the VantageScore Credit Score

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While FICO leads the pack in the credit scoring business, VantageScore entered the game in 2006 to challenge FICO’s dominance.

Developed by all three credit reporting agencies (CRCs) – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – VantageScore is gaining traction. Here’s how it works, and how you can get the best VantageScore credit score possible.

What is the VantageScore credit score?

The motive behind creating this new score was to create a simpler, more consistent, and more predictive credit score, according to VantageScore.

Although the big three credit bureaus developed VantageScore, it was transferred to independent management by VantageScore Solutions.

If you’re curious to see your VantageScore credit score, here’s a list of providers from which you can obtain it for free.

3 main benefits of the new credit score

1. Helps the credit invisible

Before the creation of VantageScore, achieving high credit scores was difficult for those considered to be “credit invisible.” Essentially if you hadn’t yet built credit, then there was nothing to score you on.

But the development of the VantageScore consisted of a strategy to include those who haven’t yet used much credit, or only use it lightly. This was done by increasing the years of credit history reviewed and adding more granular data from credit reports.

According to VantageScore, this has opened up credit scoring to an additional 30-35 million consumers.

U.S. News explains why this strategy works:

A move to VantageScore could be good news for consumers, particularly those with a weak credit history. VantageScore 3.0 is the most current version and looks back 24 months at a person’s credit history, a feature that allows it to score more people who have little or no recent credit history.

2. Emphasis on simplicity

Besides opening the gates of credit to more consumers, VantageScore also created a simplicity that didn’t yet exist in credit scoring.

With FICO credit scores, each of the three credit reporting agencies developed its own specific model. That, plus the addition of updated versions and industry-specific scores, led to the creation of multiple credit scores for each consumer.

Since VantageScore’s creation was a collaborative effort by all three credit reporting agencies, the same model is used by all three.

3. Fewer reason codes to decipher

Finally, VantageScore sought to make it easier for consumers to understand their credit scores. It uses fewer reason codes and simplifies the descriptions of these codes.

VantageScore also developed, a site where consumers can see a description of the reason codes behind their scores.

Who uses VantageScore?

As interesting as new credit scores may be, they don’t mean much unless lenders use them. That’s why it’s important to understand who uses VantageScore – and who doesn’t.

For now, FICO is still leading the pack when it comes to lender use. It’s the score your prospective creditors see when they review your credit application.

But VantageScore is the leader when it comes to a more predictive score. And that’s important to you if you have a very limited credit history. Creditors who use the score may be more likely to give you a chance.

VantageScore trailing behind FICO – for now

FICO still has the biggest hold on the market with 90 percent of “top lenders” using it. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your FICO score.

That said, VantageScore has seen tremendous growth over the past few years.

According to VantageScore, more than eight billion of its scores were used between 2015 and 2016. Additionally, “2,400 lenders and other industry participants – including 20 of the top 25 financial institutions – used VantageScore credit scores from July 2015-2016.”

VantageScore might not have 90 percent of the market yet, but it’s growing quickly. And it’s next version is set to be even more competitive.

VantageScore version 4.0 on the horizon

To take the lead, VantageScore’s next version will consider the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP).

Here’s an explanation of the plan:

NCAP provisions include the removal from consumer credit files of significant numbers of negative entries, including tax liens, certain other public records, and some collections accounts.

In short, negative entries that would typically damage your credit score for years might finally be going away. And VantageScore 4.0 will take that into consideration.

The new model, coming out late 2017, will also work to be even more predictive than today’s version by using what’s called trended credit data. According to VantageScore, this reflects changes in credit behaviors over time. It’s in contrast to the static, individual credit history records usually available in consumer credit files.

The VantageScore 4.0 model will use trended credit data to gain better insight into borrowing and payment patterns. This will be particularly beneficial to consumers in the prime and super prime credit score ranges.

From the looks of it, this new model will continue the VantageScore tradition of going outside of the box on credit scores. And this could help consumers gain more access to credit or better rates on credit.

VantageScore vs. FICO: Which one is better?

In the race to be the most popular credit score on the block, you might not be sure which credit score is better. Like the answer to most financial questions, “it depends.”

First, it’s important to understand what better means. Even if VantageScore did create the most intuitive, accurate, and simple credit score out there, it wouldn’t matter to you unless the lender you want to borrow from adopts it.

But if the work VantageScore is doing gets more lenders on board, that will be the game changer. Until then, the best thing you can do is know how you score with both credit scoring models.

As for how VantageScore vs. FICO represents your credit score, the credit score ranges aren’t very different from each other:

VantageScore vs. FICO

Image credit: Experian

Now let’s dive into how these credit scores do differ from each other.

What FICO measures and what VantageScore measures

For starters, FICO and VantageScore define measurement differently. FICO breaks down the factors that play into your score by percentage, whereas VantageScore does it by measuring their factors by influence.

Here’s a look at FICO’s factors.

VantageScore vs. FICO factors

Image credit: myFICO 

Now take a look at VantageScore’s factors.

VantageScore factors

Image credit: VantageScore

VantageScore vs. FICO credit score factors

As you compare, make sure you note one major difference.

While FICO and VantageScore both emphasize payment history as the top influencing factor, FICO puts your credit utilization in the number two spot. VantageScore puts your age and type of credit as the second most influential factor on your credit score.

VantageScore vs. FICO credit score factors

Image credit: Experian

Although both prefer consumers to have no more than a 30 percent credit utilization ratio, it’s interesting that VantageScore puts age above that. Especially when you consider the fact that VantageScore aims to open up scores to more consumers by going further back into their credit history.

Overall, both of these scores care about the same things. That certainly makes your life a lot easier as you work to get the best credit scores you can.

How to get your best VantageScore credit score

The things you can do to get the best VantageScore credit score aren’t much different from the things you would need to do to get your best FICO score.

What is different is how long negative items can influence your score. Let’s take a look.

How long do negative items affect your VantageScore credit score?

Negative items can stay on your credit report for years, according to this graph from VantageScore.

VantageScore negative credit events

Image credit: VantageScore

As long as some of these items can take to fall off your credit report, the actions you take now can help your score improve faster than it looks.

In fact, the first month after any negative item is when your score will take the biggest hit. VantageScore explains why:

The impact these items will have on your credit score may diminish over time. In other words, although a late payment stays in your credit files for seven years, it does not continue to drive down your credit score for the entire period.

This is possible because a negative item is, “weighted less by credit scoring models as it ages.” In fact, it only takes two years for most negative items to have little impact on your credit score.

Take a look at how lenders perceive each negative factor:

VantageScore negative factors

Image credit: VantageScore

VantageScore explains how to start improving your score:

The small drop caused by the activities in the yellow area can be made up very quickly. For example, your score might go down slightly because an inquiry was reported to the CRCs and you opened a new credit account, but if the CRCs are notified that your payments for the new account are on time and your balance is not excessive, your score begins to benefit from the positive information created as a result of the new credit account.”

Many consumers get so caught up on their score that they make financially detrimental decisions to get the best score they can. Don’t get caught up in that.

Follow these steps to get your best VantageScore credit score

There are a few basic practices you can follow to build or maintain a good VantageScore credit score:

  • Make all of your payments on time – to all of your bill collectors.
  • Keep your debt below 30 percent of the credit available to you.
  • Apply for credit only when you need it.

It’s that simple. But if you’re in a position in which you need to see an improvement fast, here are some specifics from VantageScore on what you can do:

The easiest way to quickly improve your credit score by 10 to 20 points may be to reduce credit card balances substantially and to maintain the behavior for a couple of months.

And a few more tips to keep in mind:

  • Reduce your credit card balances before your installment loan balances.
  • Know that missed payments on large, secured debt such as a home or car are weighted more than missed payments on a credit card.
  • Maintain positive credit behaviors (on-time payments, low credit utilization) indefinitely.

And finally, don’t stress over your credit score. Here are some words of caution from VantageScore:

Having good credit is extremely important, but worrying about whether it goes up and down slightly is much less important than paying attention to the information in your credit files, which is the result of how you manage your credit behavior.

In other words, if you manage your credit wisely, then your credit score will ultimately manage itself.

VantageScore is here to stay (for now)

Whether you consider this terrible or wonderful news, all signs point to VantageScore being here to stay. But that doesn’t mean you have to double down on your credit score tracking and improvement efforts.

Positive credit behaviors such as paying on time and keeping low debt amounts on your credit cards will help you achieve a good score. And you can receive the lowest interest rates best credit or loan products in the future.

Remember, the more you know about VantageScore, the better your credit opportunities and rates can be.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 8 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.20% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of December 13, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 12/13/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit, email us at, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.46% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% APR (without AutoPay). Variable rates currently from 2.31% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% (without AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.31% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.31% plus 0.75% margin minus 0.25% for AutoPay. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your credit history and the term of the loan and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

3 Important Disclosures for Figure.

Figure Disclosures

Figure’s Student Refinance Loan is a private loan. If you refinance federal loans, you forfeit certain flexible repayment options associated with those loans. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would impact your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation alternatives.

4 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

College Ave Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.

2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.

4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.


There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.


For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
For eligible Associates degrees in the healthcare field (see Eligibility & Eligible Loans section below), Lender will refinance up to $50,000 in loans for non-ParentPlus refinance loans. Note, parents who are refinancing loans taken out on behalf of a child who has obtained an associates degrees in an eligible healthcare field are not subject to the $50,000 loan maximum, refer to for more information about refinancing ParentPlus loans.


Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).

Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.

All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to for applicable terms and conditions.

For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.


The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.


The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.


After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.

If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.


This information is current as of November 8, 2019 and is subject to change.

6 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers.

7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 1.76% effective November 10, 2019.

8 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 12/019/2019 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% to 8.59% Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.49% to 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

1.99% – 6.89%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

2.31% – 7.36%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.06% – 6.81%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Figure

2.62% – 6.12%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit College Ave

2.29% – 6.65%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

1.99% – 7.06%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.81% – 6.29%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.90% – 8.59%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Published in Credit & Debt,