Is Credit Karma your real credit score?

Many people get their credit score from places like Credit Karma, and off their credit card statements. But are these your real credit scores?

The answer is YES and NO. Yes, they are a real credit score, but you may get a very different score when your credit is reviewed by lenders.

The confusing comes because there are many DIFFERENT scoring models out there, including multiple different ones from the same credit bureau. Each company and scoring model calculates your score a bit differently, but they all use information from your report.

The three main credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – create your credit reports, with credit scoring models like VantageScore, Beacon Score, and various FICO scores. These are use to come up with a score that typically ranges from 300-850. Theses scores for you based on their own proprietary models.

VantageScore 3.0 is a credit scoring model generally used whenever you the consumer are able to look at your own credit score, while most lenders actually use different scoring models.

Basically the thing to understand is something known as Industry-Specific Credit Scoring models, which are tailored to each industry. If you buying a new car, or new home – it may make sense for that lender to consult a credit scoring model created with for what they care most about. So car lenders care about how you handle car loans, credit card companies care how you handle credit cards, and finally, mortgage lenders car most about how you handle mortgage loans. When you look at the Vantage score, I generally call that the generic score because it is not tied to any specific industry.

For example, FICO® has all of these different models: FICO® Score 9, FICO® Auto Score 9, FICO® Bankcard Score 9, FICO CLASSIC V5, FICO CLASSIC (04),  Fair ISAAC (VER. 2).

So your score WILL VARY based on where you get it, and what type of company pulls it. It is most common for us to see your mortgage score easily 20 points lower than your Vantage score.

Your credit scores are typically based on things like how often you make payments on time and how many accounts you have in good standing.

Your score will never factor in personal information like your race, gender, religion, marital status or national origin.


Think you know your credit score? You are wrong!

Minneapolis / St Paul, MN:  These days, everyone seems to know their “credit score”.  Many people subscribe to one or all  3 credit services, or get a score from a place like CreditKarma.com.

Before you get too excited about that credit score, understand that the score numbers you just received most likely was based on the “Advantage Score” model. While that IS a credit score, that is NOT the same scoring model mortgage companies use.

Mortgage Credit Score
Mortgage Credit Score

There are many different ‘types’ of credit scores.

Mortgage lenders care about how you handle mortgages, credit card companies care about how you handle credit cards. The reports these industries pull tend to be weighted towards their industry.  The Advantage score you get when you look at your score, or from your credit card statement simply is NOT the same scoring model lenders use.

Another way to look at is is think about buying a car. You tell someone you bought a new Ford. Great, but what model Ford? Did you get a Ford Focus, or was in a new Ford Truck?

Getting your credit score somewhere?? Great, what scoring model is is based on? They are generally all FICO scores, but what scoring model is it based on?? Advantage score, Beacon Score?   Typically the Advantage Score is noticeably higher than your mortgage score.

If the credit score you are looking at is from a mortgage company, then that should be accurate if any other mortgage company pulls your credit…  Or at least until something changes, and credit scores can potentially change everyday.  I’ll save that for another article…

Ultimately, the ONLY credit score that matters is the credit score your Loan Officer obtains on the day you start your mortgage application!

For most people, the score you see and get on your own, or through your credit card statement are close, and give you a ballpark idea of your lender score, but don’t be surprised when we tell you a different number.


Credit tips for first time home buyers

 Credit tips for buying a home

We all should know that it’s important to have solid good credit when thinking about buying your first home. We all know that lenders and banks want to see solid credit in any borrower.

But what exactly does that mean for first time home buyers?

It means having some credit.  It means having a score in the mid-to-upper 600 range (although that doesn’t mean you’re out in the cold if you’re in the low 600’s).  It means no major negative items like a repo or bankruptcy in the past few years.

In short, it means you’re responsible with your money, and you pay your bills on time.  The way lender determine if you are doing these things is with a FICO credit score.

How do you make sure your credit is good in general? Let’s explore 6 credit tips for first time home buyers that you could follow even if you’re not a first time buyer.

  • Pay your bills on time, every time. This is a simple rule when it comes to establishing good credit (not always easy to follow, but it’s vital). You have to keep your bills current.
  • Have a diverse credit portfolio. This can include secured credit cards, a small car loan and maybe a store credit line. A diverse mix shows that you are able and willing to pay your bills.
  • Keep your credit charges below 30% of the limits. Going above this number will reduce your credit score. Paying the debt down is the best way to make this happen. You could also ask the credit company to raise your limit (but don’t charge more if they do!).
  • Check your credit history every quarter. You have a right to know what’s on your credit report. Thanks to the government, you actually have the legal right to get your credit report once a year from each of the 3 credit bureaus. That means you can actually check your credit report 3 times per year.
  • Keep your lines of credit open. Closing a paid-off account is a good step after you have your mortgage. A longer, more diverse credit history is important.
  • Once you have a few lines of credit, don’t open any more. Continuously opening new credit accounts is risky, and your score will reflect this.

You can explore more on how to get your credit ready to become a first time home buyer with reading “The Understanding Your FICO Score” at the button below. The Pamphlet covers what makes up a credit score, how to improve your FICO score, steps to rebuilding credit and more.


Dont worry about credit inquiries when shopping for a mortgage loan

Shopping for a mortgage loan? DON’T worry about inquiries on your credit report

We’ve all heard it before. Having someone pull your credit will reduce your credit score. Sadly, many people end up making some poor decisions based on half truths, and bad information.

The fear of reduced credit scores with the occasional pull from a creditor is the most annoying, misleading, and misunderstood thing I hear every week in the mortgage business. If you are worried about “inquiries on your report”, this isn’t the concern most people think it is.

What to know about mortgage rate shopping.
Looking for a mortgage, auto or student loan may cause multiple lenders to request your credit report, even though you are only looking for one loan. To compensate for this, the score ignores mortgage, auto, and student loan inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring.  So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your score while you’re rate shopping.  In addition, the score looks on your credit report for mortgage, auto, and student loan inquiries older than 30 days. If it finds some, it counts those inquiries that fall in a typical shopping period as just one inquiry when determining your score. For FICO scores calculated from older versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period was any 14 day span. For FICO scores calculated from the newest versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 45 day span.

Furthermore, inquiries, even under the worst of situations, could only account for 10% of your overall score. Most people should have absolutely NO CONCERN whatsoever about inquiries on your credit report unless you have applied with 10, 15, or even 20 lenders in the past 90-days.

Visit MyFico.com to find out the truth about inquiries and your credit score, and STOP WORRYING!