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Why Are Credit Karma’s Scores Higher Than What My Bank Tells Me?

Tuesday, Dec 11, 18

I have been getting this question often lately. Before I answer the question, let’s review what scores are provided by Credit Karma. As of my last check, Credit Karma provides consumers with 4 different free credit scores. All of these scores are based on Trans Unions data only.

So what are these scores?

Two of the scores are insurance risk scores. These are not used in lending.

One of the scores is a Trans Risk score. Trans Rick is a Trans Union score model which is not used in lending. I often hear this called a FICO score copy- cat. It is by no means the same as FICO.

Vantage Score- This is a real credit score used in some lending transactions. Vantage Scoring was developed in 2006 by the big 3 credit reporting agencies, Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian. To date, Vantage Scoring has 3 versions. The first 2 versions use a score range of 501-990 and the newest Vantage 3.0, has a range of 300-850. Credit Karma provides a score based on the older version of Vantage, meaning a range of 501-990. This leads to much confusion.

Now that we know more about Credit Karma’s free scores, it is time to answer the question. Without knowing the actual score model and version your “bank” uses, it is impossible to give a 100% answer. I can tell you most lenders and certainly, mortgage lenders use FICO scores. FICO also has many score versions. The standard score range is 300-850.

So why would your bank score be lower than Credit Karma’s? Here are the most common reasons.

  1. Only one of Credit Karmas scores are used in lending and it is an old version. The other scores are not used in any lending transactions so they can’t be compared.
  2. Credit Karma only uses Trans Union data so it does not take into consideration Experian or Equifax data which can be different.
  3. Most banks use FICO scores. These scores are not provided by Credit Karma.
  4. Great chance you are comparing a score from Credit Karma with a range of 501-990 versus the score your bank is using with a range of 300-850. This is not comparing apples to apples. If I created a score range from 1000-2000 even the worst credit scores would be at least 1000.

Credit scoring is very confusing. As President of Credit Education for CureMyScore.com, I do my very best to make sure each and every client has a full understanding of how to maximize their scores regardless of what scoring models are used.

About the Author

Credit Reporting / Scoring Expert, Chris McConville is the President of Credit Education at CureMyScore.com and founder of myexpertcreditwitness.com where he works as an Expert Credit Witness in both Federal and State Court. With working in the credit and mortgage fields since 1991, he’s dedicated to sharing his knowledge to educate consumers.

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