VantageScore v. FICO v. Auto FICO

Your credit score is determined by different kinds of software, and sometimes depends on what kind of loan you're applying for.

VantageScore v. FICO v. Auto FICO

Hopefully, you’ve heard of this thing called a credit score. What you might not know is there’s not only a couple of different credit scoring software but several versions of each.

FICO and VantageScore are the scores that most lenders base their assessments on. In other words, lenders determine if whether or not you’re worthy of a loan by looking at your credit scores. FICO was the original scoring bureau from 1989 until 2006 when VantageScore surfaced as a competitor.

Both scores take the following into account:

  • Payment history
  • Total available credit
  • Recently obtained credit amount
  • Number of credit inquiries

Each of these elements is weighted differently depending on which score is being calculated and your current financial situation.


Newcomer VantageScore came about in 2006. It claims to serve as more consistent than FICO and is currently on its 3rd version. Previous versions of VantageScore were previously ranked on a scale that ranged from 501-990, but with its most recent iteration, version 3.0, a VantageScore is in the range of 300-850, which is more common. VantageScore is also claimed to have a farther reach, where 30 million scores can be assessed. There are a few big differences between VantageScore and FICO.


  • Is more comprehensive, going back 24 months as opposed to FICO’s 6
  • Does not consider paid collections
  • Uses payment history for rent, utilities, and phone bills in addition to lenders
  • Combines current data with that of 2009-2011 and 2010-2012 to review the consumer’s activity under contrasting economic circumstances

Despite its features, VantageScore is much newer than FICO, which means it’s less established and therefore not as popular. FICO has been standardized across the board when it comes to how lenders assess your credit, and because of that, there’s less risk involved. FICO, after all, is a proven way of determining the future of how a consumer is going to handle their credit.

Auto Finance

FICO has several different versions, but most lenders stick to what’s called the Classic FICO, which has been in use since 1989. FICO software only takes into account the credit information provided by your credit report, which comes mainly from lenders like banks and credit card companies.

If you buy a credit score through Experian, one of the big three credit bureaus, it will be based on FICO 8, the eighth version of the FICO software. With eight came a lot of changes:

  • Credit score is less affected by big events such as repossession
  • Having fewer open and active accounts means your score will be judged on a harsher scale
  • Having both revolving and installment accounts will help your score.

When 2014 rolled around, FICO came up with a different scoring version, called FICO 9. FICO 9 appears to have more to do with medical bills than previous versions. Unpaid medical bills don’t have as much of an impact on a consumer’s score.


Imagine all of these credit scores working together in tandem, like gears in a car’s transmission. Now to throw a wrench into the works, there are specific FICO scores for different purposes.

For instance, if you’re applying for a mortgage a lender will call for a FICO score that determines eligibility for a mortgage. Likewise, there is a FICO Auto score for determining whether or not you’re eligible for a car loan.

As recent as June of 2016 FICO has released its newest version of the FICO Auto score, which has a range of 250-900 as opposed to the classic FICO score of 300-850. FICO Auto scores take into account the previous 30 months of credit activity and are pulled from TransUnion’s CreditVision data.

Fundamentally the FICO Auto looks at:

  • Credit balance fluctuation - Whether your balance has been going higher or lower
  • Greater than minimum payments
  • Credit utilization ratio fluctuation

Thankfully the newest version of FICO Auto is 9 XT so it won’t take into account things like unpaid medical bills.

It’s important to understand the different scores and how they can affect you. It’s especially important to understand the FICO Auto score before going out to buy a car. While this all can be overwhelming or difficult to understand, knowing what version of FICO your lender is looking at can help understand your eligibility.

A VantageScore is supremely useful in this regard because if your score is lower than you expected, VantageScore provides a website illustrating the reasons your score was so low, so you can make informed decisions on how to improve it.

The Instamotor TeamThe Instamotor Team

Not your typical used car salesman. Our team is here to provide honest and transparent advice about car buying and selling.