In the United States, a credit score is a numerical value, which represents a potential borrower, mortgagor or lessor's creditworthiness--the likelihood that he'll repay a debt. Three main credit bureaus tabulate scores for individuals based on factors such as past payment history, frequency of credit history inquiries and the total amount of present debt. Lenders, on the other hand, make use of a different scoring body, which may provide different results.
Lenders use the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) scoring model to determine a potential borrower's creditworthiness. It's important to note that while FICO scores and those from consumer credit bureaus draw on the same sources of information, they are determined independently--and may thus vary, even when they're calculated around the same time. According to the official myFICO website, 90 percent of the largest banks consult your FICO score when making lending decisions. You can check your FICO score online at myfico.com.
If you run your Experian credit report, you'll receive what's called a "PLUS" score. Although its determinations are often similar to those contained in the FICO reports lenders see, PLUS is consumer-geared and provides you interpretation of elements of credit scores, rather than just numerical values. PLUS also gives you suggestions on how to improve your credit. For example, if your score is suffering due to excessive inquiries into your credit history, it might suggest you make an effort to limit them. As is the case with FICO, you can check your Experian PLUS score online at experian.com.
Equifax uses the "Equifax Credit Score" to provide you information on your creditworthiness. As is the case with Experian's PLUS score, the Equifax Credit Score, measured from 280 to 850, is separate from FICO, whose values range from 300 to 850. Equifax states that although it may use your FICO score to determine your Equifax Credit Score, this may not result in identical or even similar results. Visit equifax.com to check your Equifax Credit Score.
TransUnion provides consumers with their TransUnion credit scores via its "ZenDough" portal. When you access your TransUnion credit file at ZenDough.com, you will not only see numerical values such as your total indebtedness in dollars, but also explanations as to what certain values mean in terms of your overall creditworthiness and tips as to how you might remedy problem areas in advance of future evaluations.