Credit Check: Deciphering FICO vs Vantage Scores

Credit Checks

As a landlord and business owner, you’ve likely become intimately acquainted with credit checks, credit scores and credit bureaus. That means you’re probably aware that the bureaus designed and released their own proprietary scoring model called the Vantage Score. While most lenders and property owners are still using FICO scores to determine an individual’s credit, it’s still important to know how Vantage scores work and what they mean as they become more widely used. We’ve put together a list of differences and how those will affect landlords and property managers.

Score Range

These two scoring systems will return different credit score numbers than you’re used to seeing. Across all the major credit bureaus, a score can range from 300 to 850. It varies from bureau to bureau, but if you’ve been doing tenant screening for a while, you’re probably familiar with each. Vantage, on the other hand, has a range from 501 to 990 and is intended to provide more consistency between bureaus.

Positive and Negative Effects

In the traditional FICO system, there’s an exponential effect on a person’s credit based on their behavior. Positive credit behavior begins to snowball into a better score after a certain point, while negative credit behavior is more damaging to someone with a low credit score. It’s scoring criteria leans more on payment history and credit utilization, and less on recent credit. Vantage, on the other hand, relies much more on recent credit (opened accounts and inquiries). This means that opening multiple new accounts or additional inquiries could cause more negative impact than in the FICO system. Multiple accounts also harm a FICO score at the beginning, but are quickly mediated by other factors.

Scoring Consumers

Both systems use a sort of “scorecard” to measure an individual’s activity against other consumers in similar circumstances. There are people who behave “positively” and those who behave “negatively,” and a consumer is scored against both the worst and the best to decide whether credit can be recovered quickly or sink even lower.

Authorized Users

The FICO score factors in other authorized users of an account while the Vantage score doesn’t take these accounts into consideration at all. What that means is that only the primary account holder will be factored into the Vantage score, so if a user relies on another primary credit holder without having credit of their own, it could drastically affect their score.

You can find more details about FICO and Vantage scores at Credit Repair Publishing.

So what do all these details mean for you when you’re renting your property? It’s important to know the differences in scoring and approach so you can determine if a prospective tenant is truly a risk or if they might be being more impacted by a Vantage score than a FICO score. This is why it’s essential to screen and review information like eviction and criminal history, or issues of non-payment, when accepting applications.

To better help you make the right decision, try our RentalConnect program, which offers property owners and landlords a great alternative to the expense of full tenant screening. This service requires no on-site visit, sign-up, or membership fees, making it extra convenient. The $34.95 service fee is paid by the applicant. Available 24/7, RentalConnect is fast, easy, secure, and delivers reports needed to make an informed decision, including a credit report, a national criminal search, and a national eviction search. Reach out to us for more details!


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