My Credit Scores Are All Different. Here's Why I Don't Sweat It

by Maurie Backman | Published on Aug. 24, 2021

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It's not uncommon to have three different credit scores. And it doesn't bother me one bit.

Last summer, I decided to refinance my mortgage to take advantage of the low interest rates that were available at the time. Before I did, I made sure to check my credit score.

Once your credit score reaches a certain point -- usually, in the mid-to-upper 700s -- you're likely to snag the best rates a mortgage lender has to offer. Similarly, once your credit score reaches that threshold, you're likely to get approved for the best credit card offers.

When I went to check my score, I was pleased with it. But to be clear, I saw three different numbers.

That's not uncommon. Most of us have three different credit scores. And while mine actually had a pretty notable gap between them, it still wasn't a problem.

Why consumers have three different credit scores

Your credit score is based on the information contained in your credit report. There are three different credit bureaus that put those reports together -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Because that information can differ, so too can your credit score from one bureau to the next.

Generally, your scores will be reasonably similar to one another so that if Experian, for example, lists your score as a 702, the other two bureaus may have you down as a 705 and a 698. That's normal.

What's a bit less normal is if there's a huge gap from bureau to bureau, such as if one were to report your score as 702 but your other two scores were a 620 and 785. If you see something like that on your credit record, it could mean that there's erroneous information on one or two of your credit reports.

You'll want to pull those reports (which you can do once a year for free), see what they say, and work on correcting mistakes that work against you.

Why I don't care that my credit scores are different

So, getting back to my mortgage refinance. When I went to check my three different credit scores, they ranged from around a 795 to an 825, with my third score landing smack in the middle at around an 810. That sort of gap is a bit odd, but when I checked my credit reports, everything looked right.

What may have happened was that the bureau that assigned me the lower score hadn't yet removed some hard inquiries on my record that were bringing my score down (those come into play when you apply for a loan or credit card). But either way, I didn't sweat it.

First of all, in a situation where you're applying for a loan, lenders generally take your middle score and use it to base their decision on. That means in my case, my score of 810 would've been used to determine what refinance rate I qualified for. Since an 810 is a very strong score, it didn't matter to me that another bureau may have had me at a higher score.

Even my lowest score of the bunch -- the 795 -- was high enough to snag me the best rates lenders had to offer. And so I didn't even bother digging into my scores any further.

It's always a good idea to check your credit score before applying for a loan -- especially a big one, like a mortgage. If there's a small gap between your scores from one bureau to the next, it's generally not something to even think about. A wider gap like the one I faced is something you could look into, but only if it's impacting you negatively. Sometimes, if you sit back and do nothing, these things resolve themselves.

That's what happened to me. Right now, I have about a 15-point spread between my three credit scores and the lowest number of the bunch is well into the 800s. I do, however, intend to keep checking my credit report once every three to four months to make sure there are no red flags there. That's something that's important to do all the time -- whether you're applying for a loan or not.

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