Why are my credit scores different?

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 Q. I checked my credit reports. I have scores of 683, 720 and 735. Is that considered good credit, and why are the scores different?

A. We’re glad you’re keeping tabs on your credit report.

One big reason your scores are different is because they have been calculated using information from three different credit reporting agencies, said Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com. That information may be somewhat different.

“Since creditors aren’t required to report to all three agencies, some may report to just one or two, for example,” she said. “But more likely reason they are different is because each agency is using a different credit scoring model to create the score, and each model may weigh information slightly differently.”

For example, one scoring model might ignore all paid collection accounts, while another might ignore collection accounts where the original balance was less than $100, Detweiler said.

As for whether they are good credit scores, that really depends.

Detweiler said consumers need to understand the range that is being used for the scores.

“While most FICO scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850, for example, the NextGen FICO score — which at least one major issuer shows to consumers on their credit card statements — goes up to 950*,” she said. “An 800 in a model where the highest score is 850 would be considered excellent, but if the highest score in the model is 990 then an 800 might just be `good.'”

While you’ll never know the exact formula used but all the credit bureaus, it’s important for you to understand what goes into a credit score.

FICO scores are made up of: 35 percent for payment history, 30 percent for the number of accounts owned, 15 percent for length of credit history, 10 percent on the amount of credit used, and 10 percent is for new credit.

So the differences among your scores could be as simple as what’s reported to each agency, but it could be something more.

“I would look at the history or the details on the lower score to make sure there are no erroneous entries or missing accounts in your file, which may result in a slightly lower score,” said Michael Gibney, a certified financial planner with Highland Financial in Riverdale.

So are your scores good ones?

Ultimately, a good score is the one that gets you what you want, whether that’s a low interest rate or a high credit limit, or both, Detweiler said.

“There, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, namely the card issuer which will decide which scores make the cut,” she said.

Good luck!

*The original post mistakenly said the NextGen FICO score went up to 990. It only goes to 950. We regret the error.

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NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.