Competition and Controversy
Asserting they've built a better mousetrap, the three credit reporting agencies formed a joint venture in 2006, VantageScore Solutions, and launched VantageScore, to compete with FICO's scoring system. A VantageScore can range from 501 to 990.
According to Experian, seven of the top 50 auto lenders now use VantageScore in their lending decisions, though it's unclear whether VantageScore is being used in conjunction with, or instead of, FICO scores. Meanwhile, FICO is suing the three agencies on a variety of charges. There are other credit scoring systems in addition to FICO and VantageScore, some of which look exclusively at your auto loan payment history.
Moreover, the three credit reporting agencies are able to brand and market their own version of FICO- and/or VantageScore-based credit scores to lenders and consumers. It's confusing, all the more so for consumers, who often mistakenly assume that all credit scores are FICO scores.
Fortunately, FICO scores have been available directly to the public since 2001. Consumers can purchase their FICO score through AnnualCreditReport.com, MyFICO.com, Equifax, and TransunionCS.com. Experian no longer offers FICO scores directly to consumers.
Understanding Your Credit Report
How To Read Your Credit Score