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TransUnion, FICO, and Credit Scores: How They Connect and Impact You

Your credit score is one of the most important factors that lenders use to evaluate your creditworthiness. Having a high credit score can help you get approved for credit cards, loans, and other financial products with better terms. But understanding where your credit score comes from and what goes into calculating it can be confusing. 

Does TransUnion Use FICO Scores?

TransUnion does not use FICO scores to evaluate creditworthiness. Instead, it uses the proprietary scoring model called VantageScore, developed jointly by the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian).

VantageScore evaluates credit risk similarly to FICO but weights certain factors differently.

How Does TransUnion Calculate Credit Scores?

The VantageScore credit scoring model uses the same basic categories and point system as FICO but weights them slightly differently. Here is an overview of the five main factors that make up your TransUnion VantageScore:

  1. Payment History – This examines your track record of making payments on all your credit accounts on time. It’s the most important factor, making up 40% of your score. 
  2. Amounts Owed – Also called your credit utilization ratio, this looks at how much credit you are using compared to your total available credit limits. It accounts for around 20% of your score.
  3. Length of Credit History – How long you’ve been using credit is about 15% of your score. In general, a longer established credit history is better.
  4. New Credit – When you open new credit accounts, it can negatively impact your score in the short term. This factor is 10% of your TransUnion score. 
  5. Types of Credit Used – Having a mix of credit types like credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, etc is a plus. This diversity factor is the remaining 15% of your score.

The VantageScore Score Chart

There are no strict cutoffs, as well as no magic scores to be aspired to, but VantageScore does offer a sort of guidance. In the table below, you can see a general idea of how scores can stack up, but also keep in mind that it will depend on the lender, the type of loan, and the application itself.

Credit Score GradeVantageScore RangeVantageScore National RankingPrevious VantageScore
Previous National Ranking

How Does FICO Calculate Credit Scores?

The FICO scoring model examines the same five general categories as VantageScore but weighs them slightly differently:

  1. Payment History – Your history of on-time payments makes up 35% of your FICO score, so just a bit less than with VantageScore.
  2. Amounts Owed – Your total balances and amounts of available credit make up 30% of your FICO score, which is a bigger factor than with TransUnion. 
  3. Length of Credit History – The length of your credit history is about 15% of your FICO score.
  4. New Credit – New credit inquiries and accounts are 10% of your FICO score.
  5. Types of Credit Used – Your mix of credit types makes up the final 10% of your FICO score.

Differences Between TransUnion and FICO Scoring Models

While both TransUnion’s VantageScore and FICO examine the same basic categories, there are some key differences:

  • Payment history is the biggest factor with VantageScore but slightly less important with FICO.
  • FICO places more emphasis on amounts owed compared to VantageScore.
  • VantageScore looks more at your mix of credit types while FICO weighs this less. 
  • VantageScore may be more forgiving of a short credit history compared to FICO.
  • FICO scores range from 300-850 while VantageScore ranges from 501-990.

Overall the two models evaluate your credit risk in broadly similar ways. But the slight differences in their formulas can mean variation in the scores they produce for any given individual.

Here is a table comparing FICO and TransUnion VantageScore credit scoring models:

FactorFICOTransUnion VantageScore
Scoring range300-850501-990
Payment history35% of score40% of score
Amounts owed30% of score20% of score
Length of credit history15% of score15% of score
New credit10% of score10% of score
Credit mix10% of score15% of score
Overall comparisonEmphasizes amounts owed and payment historyEmphasizes payment history and credit mix
Credit report data usedPrimarily Experian and EquifaxTransUnion
Best forEvaluating odds of defaultDetermining creditworthiness
UsageMost common model used by lendersAccepted by some lenders, especially for credit cards

Why Do Different Bureaus Have Different Scores?

It’s common for your credit scores to vary somewhat between TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. There are two main reasons for this:

  • Each bureau may have slightly different credit report information about you based on their separate record keeping. Not every creditor reports to all three bureaus.
  • Even with identical data, the use of different scoring models by each bureau can result in scoring variations. For instance, TransUnion uses VantageScore while Equifax and Experian use various FICO models. 

In most cases, major differences between your scores from different bureaus likely indicate an inaccuracy or omission in at least one of your three credit reports. Checking all three regularly can help you stay on top of any reporting discrepancies.

How to Improve Your FICO Score and TransUnion Score

Since both FICO and VantageScore evaluate similar credit factors, many strategies can help raise your scores with all three bureaus:

  • Pay all your bills on time each month to benefit your payment history. Set up autopay or reminders if needed.
  • Keep credit card balances low and avoid maxing out your cards to help your amounts owed
  • Have a few old, active credit accounts to demonstrate a lengthy credit history.
  • Limit new credit applications to only when needed to minimize hits to your new credit factor.
  • Use different credit types responsibly, such as credit cards and an installment loan, to show credit mix.

Building healthy long-term credit habits allows your scores to improve over time across FICO, TransUnion, and other models. Monitoring your reports helps make sure your positive behaviors get consistently reported.

Understanding Your TransUnion Report

Checking your TransUnion credit report regularly is important to understand what’s being reported about your credit history and identify any inaccuracies:

  • You can get a free copy of your TransUnion report from each year.
  • Signing up for TransUnion’s credit monitoring service also gives you access to your latest report.
  • Review all personal info, account details, credit inquiries and public records for errors.
  • If you find mistakes on your TransUnion report, you can dispute them to the bureau for investigation and correction.
  • Even with accurate data, checking your TransUnion report helps you see which factors most influence your VantageScore.

Understanding Your FICO Report

While TransUnion doesn’t provide FICO scores, you can still monitor information impacting your FICO through your TransUnion report:

  • Just remember your FICO score weighs factors like amounts owed and new credit a bit differently than VantageScore.
  • Focus on lowering balances, reviewing inquiries and continuing responsible credit habits.
  • For your official FICO report and scores from all three bureaus, visit
  • Your FICO account also lets you review factors that most impact your specific FICO scores.
  • Dispute any errors directly with Equifax and Experian as well to ensure your FICO report stays accurate.


TransUnion uses VantageScore instead of FICO to evaluate your creditworthiness. While the models are similar, understanding the slight differences can help you keep tabs on your reports and work to build your scores with both scoring systems. Checking your credit reports frequently and maintaining healthy credit habits over time are your best strategies for raising your FICO and VantageScore with all three major credit bureaus.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Is FICO score or TransUnion more accurate?

FICO scores are generally considered to be more accurate than TransUnion scores. FICO scores rely on a complex algorithm that takes into account a variety of factors, such as payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and types of credit used. TransUnion scores, on the other hand, are based on the data reported to the credit bureau, which may not always be up-to-date or accurate. Therefore, FICO scores are typically more reliable when it comes to assessing creditworthiness.

Do lenders use FICO or TransUnion?

Lenders use both FICO and TransUnion to assess creditworthiness when making lending decisions. FICO is a scoring system developed by Fair Isaac Corporation, which evaluates credit history to assign a numerical score that ranges from 300 to 850. TransUnion is one of the three major credit bureaus, which collects and maintains credit information from lenders and other sources. TransUnion uses its own scoring system, the TransRisk Score, to evaluate creditworthiness. Both scores are widely used by lenders to determine if an individual is eligible for a loan or credit card.

Is TransUnion or Equifax closer to FICO?

TransUnion and Equifax are two of the three major credit bureaus that provide credit scores, but neither one is actually closer to FICO. FICO is a separate company that provides its own credit score, which is a slightly different calculation than the scores provided by TransUnion and Equifax. The FICO score is the most widely used score and is used by lenders to determine creditworthiness.

Why is my FICO score different from TransUnion?

FICO scores and TransUnion scores are different because they are calculated using different scoring models. FICO scores are based on the Fair Isaac Corporation’s scoring model, which evaluates credit history, payment history, credit utilization, and other factors. TransUnion scores are based on their proprietary VantageScore model, which considers similar factors but weighs them differently.