Thursday, September 14, 2006

How to Check Your Vantage Score

One of the newest animals on the credit-score horizon is the VantageScore®. If you pay much attention to the credit world, you've probably heard about it: It's the credit industry's first genuine shot at creating a single, ubiquitous formula for rating your credit data from the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).

As you might imagine, VantageScore is a three-digit credit score. (What rioting might ensue if the agency suits varied from three-digit scores, anyway?) Here's a quaint snippet of description from Experian's website:

VantageScore is the credit industry’s first credit score developed jointly by the three national credit bureaus. This innovative new approach to credit scoring simplifies the credit granting process for consumers and creditors by providing a consistent, objective score to the marketplace.

Your VantageScore will be a two-part entity. The first part — the numerical one — will range from 501 to 990. The higher the number, in theory, the lower the risk you are to lenders. The second part of the VantageScore assigns a letter grade from A to D, and then F. The ranges break down thusly:
Letter RatingScore RangeCategory
A901-990Super Prime
B801-900Prime Plus
F501-600High Risk

Great. The first thing that jumps out at me? It's the fact that, as a credit agency, you can be assured you have a promising business environment when you can label the average Joe Blow, C-rated, debt-laden consumer as "Prime." That, Dear Reader, says a lot about our world. (According to the Bankrate article "New Credit Score Now Online" (July, 2006), more than two-thirds of all consumers will qualify for a VantageScore grade of "C" or higher.)

Just because it was "developed jointly" by the three agencies doesn't mean that you'll see the same VantageScore if you acquire it from each one. Sure, the algorithm for computing your VantageScore (that's what the bureaus locked heads on) will be the same when each bureau is doing the math. But if each credit bureau has different data on you (highly likely), then your scores will still vary (just like your FICO) across the board.

As consumers, we're told that the VantageScore will be more "friendly" to our needs. Pardon me if I'm highly skeptical. Although, if by "friendly" these guys mean "something else about your life that you'll have to pay to see," then I guess they're right. Will it catch on? Who knows. Will the credit bureaus make more money from it? Almost certainly. They've already made $5.95 from me.

Right now, as best I can tell, the only bureau that offers to let you see your VantageScore is Experian. They offer it for $5.95. Just for kicks 'n' giggles, I forked over the six bucks tonight and caught a glimpse of the Credit Bureau Profit Tool that is VantageScore.

Checking the VantageScore

The online application was pretty standard stuff, if you're familiar with requesting things like credit reports on the internet. You'll have to divulge your name, address, SSN, employer, and so on.

The second screen prompts you with four multiple-choice questions relating to information that's currently on your credit report.

Plug in your credit card information at the next screen, click a "Yes, I Know What I'm Doing" button or two, and your VantageScore report will shine forth in all its . . . understated . . . glory.

Ouch. 753? A grade of "C"? I'm dubbed a "medium low" risk by lenders?

Well, yes. Of course.

That's what playing the zero-percent credit card arbitrage game will do to your credit score. And no, it doesn't concern or bother me. The crammed-full credit card balances that cause that sagging VantageScore will earn me interest of about 13 times the cost of checking my VantageScore. And that's just this month. And for doing pretty much nothing.

In any case, I've done my part to pad the pockets of the credit bureaus one more time. Finding out your own VantageScore is a pretty easy task, and it'll cost you less than a six-pack of decent imported beer.

Why (and how much) the VantageScore matters to consumers, though, is still anyone's guess.

— Posted by Michael @ 9:39 PM


I just purchased a vantage score from experian and it spat out a score of 990! Imposible!

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 12:10 AM, April 03, 2007  

I want my money back. I wanted the traditional experian score and I get the "vantagescore".

Lender's don't use this score. I'm actually a credit manager and use experian reports and we don't use this kind of credit scoring.
Again, I agreed to pay for the traditional experian report, but I got the vantage score.
I want my money back.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 8:56 PM, May 17, 2007  

Have you contacted Experian about your concern?


This is for the anonymous credit manager. Did you read?

"One of the newest animals on the credit-score horizon is the VantageScore."

"...for consumers and creditors by providing a consistent, objective score to the marketplace."

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 5:15 AM, March 30, 2008  
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