Credit Score Differences

It’s hard to get real, hard data on various finance things sometimes. After all, for “real world” data, I can only go on what I have most of the time. That’s hardly definitive for everyone. There is always data “out there,” of course, but it’s hard to know what to trust. Even when people are honest, they aren’t necessarily accurate. That’s why scientists hate research that depends upon participants self-reporting data.

Even when you have real data, there is often fine print that renders it moot. For example, I have a credit score that gives me my credit score for free each month, but it says right there in small letters that this is not the score they use for making lending decisions. That hardly makes it my “real credit score” then.

Credit Karma has free credit scores that are not FICO scores. Credit Sesame offers similar non-FICO based credit scores, also for free.

Which Credit Score Is Real, Really?

However, recently, I had a friend, who I trust and know well enough that he let me see some interesting data regarding his credit score. (Mostly, he wondered, what was going on.)

real credit score numbers

It turns out that he has a credit union credit score that is billed as his “real” score, that is, the score the bank actually uses for his account decisions. He also has a credit card score from another bank that also claims to be for the actual use of the bank in making credit decisions. (He let me read the fine print with my own eyes.) And, as if that weren’t enough, he is going to be moving soon, so he went through the process of getting pre-approved for a mortgage, during which they pulled his credit report.

The results?

The Credit Card credit score is 678. That’s pretty low.

But, the Mortgage credit score is 722. That’s pretty decent.

And the Credit Union credit score was 721.

So, what gives?

Theoretically, the idea is that his real credit score must be around 720, right?

But, the credit card score may be being affected more than the others by something. You see, there isn’t just one real credit score. There are different scores for different types of lending. If, only I could talk him into going and getting a car loan, there might be a different credit score altogether for that type of loan.

It would be interesting to set up a research institute and see how this data all worked someday. For now, I doubt too many people will let me look at their detailed personal financial data. But, this peak, was a good one.


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