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DID YOU KNOW: Do All Credit Reports Have a Credit Score?

Date: May 19, 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author (credit expert John Ulzheimer) and not necessarily those of VantageScore Solutions, LLC.

Credit scoring is the process whereby your credit report information is evaluated by a sophisticated credit scoring model. The product of this evaluation is a three-digit number ranging, normally, from 300 to 850. This is called a credit score and it’s used to assess risk on a consumer loan.

Credit scores of many varieties have become ubiquitous in consumer lending. For example, in the twelve-month period between June 2018 and June 2019 over 12 billion VantageScore credit scores were used for various purposes ranging from underwriting and risk assessment to marketing and consumer education.

And while there are some 220 million consumer credit files* maintained by each of the three national consumer credit reporting companies, not every single credit file can be scored. A credit report has to meet certain criteria in order to support a valid credit score that can be used by banks and other service and credit providers.

Minimum Scoring Criteria

In order for a consumer’s credit report to be scored it must satisfy what is formally referred to as “minimum scoring criteria.” This is the minimal amount of information that must be on a consumer’s credit report in order for it to be scored. If a credit report does not meet these criteria, the credit report can still be delivered to a lender, but there will not be an accompanying credit score.

Not all credit scoring systems have the same minimum scoring criteria. Some are more inclusive that others. This means some credit reports are going to be scorable under certain models and not scorable under others. For example, one type of commonly used credit score brand will only score credit reports that meet the following criteria:

  • Credit report must have at least one undisputed tradeline (a credit account) that is older than 6 months
  • Credit report must have at least one undisputed tradeline that has been updated within the last 6 months
  • Credit report cannot have a deceased indicator (a code used to state that a consumer is dead)

One account can satisfy the first two criteria listed above. So, for example, if you have an active credit card account on your credit reports that you opened 10 years ago and that was also updated within the last six months, your credit report will be scorable under the above criteria.

The VantageScore credit scoring model’s criteria is different. VantageScore’s scoring models have a more inclusive minimum scoring criteria and may be able to score credit reports that would have otherwise failed other model’s criteria.

According to VantageScore Solutions, their scoring models can score approximately 40 million more consumers than other commonly used scoring systems. This includes consumers who are new to credit and do not have accounts that are older than 6 months. This also includes credit “dormant” consumers who do not have recent updates to their credit reports, but did have updates more than 6 months ago. And finally, VantageScore’s credit scores can score consumers who do not have any credit accounts but do have public records or 3rd party collection accounts.

The Benefits of Being Scorable

The benefits of being scorable, under any scoring system, are considerable. Credit scores can be calculated almost instantly when a lender pulls a credit report. As such, lenders can offer instant credit decisions. The lack of a credit score can lead to an extended waiting period that often accompanies the manual underwriting process of non-scorable credit applicants.

Credit scores also yield a consistent evaluation of a consumer’s credit report information. Credit score models do not see or consider anything that is not on a consumer’s credit reports, including information about income, race, and gender. If your credit reports indicate that you are a low credit risk, you’re likely going to have a high credit score, regardless of the credit score brand.

Where Can I Check My Scores?

There is no shortage of options when it comes to checking your own credit scores. Many lenders offer free access to credit scores for their customers including, but not limited to, American Express, Capital One, Chase, and US Bank.

There are also many websites that will provide you will free access to your credit scores along with a summary of your credit report information. These websites include, but are not limited to, CreditSesame, Credit Karma, and CreditCards.com.

While your credit scores calculated from different score brands, scoring model generations, and credit reporting companies are unlikely to be the same identical three-digit number, they should all be directionally similar. This means consumers who have a history of paying their obligations on time, maintaining modest amounts of credit card and other debt, and do not excessively apply for credit will earn strong credit scores regardless of where the score came from or what company built the scoring models.

*Also see https://www.equifax.com/business/consumer-credit-file/