Real FICO credit score

I‘m on a quest.  Much like Indiana Jones and his quest for the coveted Holy Grail. Only, my quest is not nearly as dangerous, but it does lead you down many dark tunnels and great quests filled with mystery and suspense.  I’m on a quest to find my real FICO credit score (cue Indiana Jones theme music….).

Okay, so this quest isn’t that exciting.  For me it was a quest because it took several days to get the answer I was seeking.  You’re probably wondering: why the  obsession with my credit score?  I already knew I had a decent score.  I had learned that when we recently built our dream home and then again after we refinanced since our bank had to run our credit scores then.

So why am I now really obsessed?

how to Find fico credit score

More than one?

A large part is attributed to my book, Soldier of Finance, that I’m working on.  A good chunk of the book is dedicated to learning your credit score and various ways to improve or raise your credit score if you need it.  What I realized was that the more I wrote about credit scores the more I learned I didn’t know about them.  In fact, I feel like instead of majoring in Finance I should have majored in “Credit Scores” because the whole system is confusing.

Why The Fuss? Some financial experts like Dave Ramsey say to not worry about your credit score.  Personally, I disagree.  Your credit score is the heart rate to your financial health.  You don’t want to obsess over it, but you do want to check it every once in a while to make sure your pulse (score) is still good.

First Stop:

how to Find fico credit score

First Stop

One of the first sites that I visited to get my “free credit score” was After retrieving my score here, which was 758, I realized that technically it wasn’t my real FICO credit score.

finding my real fico credit score

758, yes!

What? Not my real credit score?  Doh! (I’ll explain this more in a bit.)

how to Find fico credit score


So if that’s not my real FICO score, what is?

We  just completed the building of our dream home earlier this year and refinanced when rates dropped a few months back, so I knew that my bank would have our most recent credit scores.  I contacted my banker to see what scores they had on me.

ask your banker how to Find fico credit score

Excuse me, Mr. Banker sir…

This is what I got from them:

776 / 765 / 773    These are from all three credit bureaus.  Also, these are mortgage report credit scores which will be lower then credit scores that you would pull.

Did you catch that?  Look again:

….these are mortgage report credit scores…..

how to Find fico credit score

Mortgage report who?

Mortgage report credit scores….what the heck is that? (this is the classic phrase that my Phillipino mother says all the time.  Love you mom!)  Now thoroughly perplexed, I emailed my banker to see exactly what that meant.  His second response: (I’m sure he’s loving me by the way)

I found out about a year ago, that Freddie & Fannie had been working with the three credit bureaus to set up a scoring model for the purpose of mortgage loan requests.  The mortgage scoring is tougher then the normal consumer scoring.  Both are FICO scores utilizing the same system, but as one example, consumer models don’t give a lot of weight to collection items, whereas the mortgage scoring system does.  People who have collection items on their credit will score lower with the mortgage scoring system then the traditional consumer scoring system.  That’s one of the examples, but since FICO is a proprietary system, the public knows very little about the full details that go into your score.

After I read the email, this was my response:  Huh?

I knew at this time I was in way over my head.

Just like a typical male that won’t stop to ask directions when he’s completely lost, I trudged on hoping to find my answer of what my real credit score is.  Next stop

Note:  After going through this process, I have also learned that is also another option in retrieving your free credit score.  They pull your credit score from TransUnion.

Credit Scores at

how to Find fico credit score at

Third time a charm?

Still curious I decided to actually purchase my credit score through  It cost me $25 bucks, but I didn’t care.  I was on a mission.  (Note: I have since learned that I could have signed up for a free trial to get my credit score for free.  Crap.)

how to Find fico credit score


Thinking there would only be only one true credit score, it gave me two.  One from TransUnion and the other from Equifax, which were 779 and 770 respectively.

Really? Two Credit Scores?!

More than one credit score


So here’s what I’m looking at so far: 758, 776, 765, 773, 779, and 770. At this point I have no clue which one is the real deal.  No more messing around.  It was time to break out the big guns.

Contact the Expert (about freakin’ time)

ask the expert how to Find fico credit score

Please…I’m begging you…

Looking to sort through the credit score maze, I contacted personal finance guru and author of Your Credit Score, Your Money and What’s at Stake, Liz Weston and explained to her my situation.

First, Liz explained to me my Quizzle score.  She said,

“It is true that the scores many consumers get aren’t FICOs, and these “consumer education” scores can be 30 to 100 points higher than your FICOs.”

Okay, great!  Consumer education scores.  That helps a ton!.   So in fact, Quizzle’s credit score is just supposed to give you a general range of where your credit score is at.  My score there wasn’t too far off, so at least it gave me a good starting point.   Now, what about the “mortgage report credit scores”

Liz had an idea but verified with a contact at FICO – nothing like going straight to the source!  She states,

It was my understanding that most mortgage lenders use the classic FICO score, which is what you get at The scores will be different day-to-day (and even sometimes intraday) because the information in your credit files is constantly changing.

I’m not sure what your banker means when he says Fannie and Freddie worked with the bureaus to changed the FICO formulas, since they (none of them, the agencies or the bureaus) wouldn’t be able to do that. That’s FICO (Fair Isaac’s) purview.

But this wouldn’t be the first time a banker or mortgage lender gave bad info. There’s a whole chapter in my credit scoring book devoted to myths perpetrated by those who should know better.



She later confirmed that the banker was off in his statement.  In my banker’s defense, this stuff is really confusing – obviously.  Liz adds,

“Fannie and Freddie don’t do anything in concert when it comes to risk-evaluation tools, and neither do the bureaus, other than creating VantageScore as a would-be competitor to FICO (not that VS made much headway).

Fannie and Freddie are evaluating a version of the FICO called the FICO 8 Mortgage Score, but they have yet to tell the mortgage industry that they will accept that score instead of a classic FICO.

The FICO 8 Mortgage Score was introduced to lenders from Equifax in March but just became available to lenders from TransUnion and Experian last month, so your lender couldn’t have been using it to generate scores from all three bureaus earlier this year.

The FICO 8 Mortgage Score does give more weight to a person’s mortgage history, but not to collections. This is in line with other versions of the FICO, such as the one for the auto lending industry that gives more emphasis to a person’s auto loan history.”

There you have it. This is probably more information than you eve wanted to know about your credit score, but at least now I have a better understanding.

Note: If you have a question for Liz, check out her site Ask Liz Weston.  This lady knows her stuff.  Thanks Liz for helping out!

Getting a Second Expert Opinion


Deep thought pose

Then I checked with Philip Tirone, a mortgage broker and the author of 7 Steps to a 720 Credit Score, from Philip echoed what Liz said, and then he added this:

“The consumer education score is worthless because no lender will ever use it. And because it is almost always higher than a FICO score, the consumer score gives a person an artificial sense of security about their credit score. They would be much better off getting the scores directly from FICO and ignoring the consumer scores entirely.”

Philip added that 100 percent of the credit scores that he reviews in his capacity as a mortgage broker have been based on the FICO score.

Okay, but I’m still confused. Where do TransUnion and Experian come into play?

Philip explained,

“There are three primary credit-reporting bureaus—TransUnion, Experian, and Equaifax—who are responsible for collecting your credit information and applying a formula to the information: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. So you have a TransUnion FICO score and a TransUnion consumer score, and so on and so forth. When a lender pulls your credit score (and as I’ve noticed, this will always be your FICO score), the lender actually gets three scores, one from each of the three bureaus. The lender ignores the high score and the low score, looking at the one that falls in the middle, and assigning interest rates only.”

Philip went on to explain that only TransUnion and Equifax sell both FICO and consumer scores to the public. If you buy a score from Experian, it will always be the consumer score.

Assuming what I’ve written is true, I also suggest inserting this after: “It was my understanding that most mortgage lenders use the  classic FICO  score, which is what you get at The scores  will be  different day-to-day (and even sometimes intraday) because the   information in your credit files is constantly changing.”

This explains why the scores I got from MyFICO were different from the scores I got from the lender—they were pulled on different days. You can read more about how Experian pulled the plugged from allowing consumers to purchase their credit score at Credit

Credit Score Takeaways

Real Credit Score

Big Cheesey Smile

The biggest thing I got out of this is that you have several different scores and they constantly change.  I don’t want you to become obsessed over your credit score like I did, but it is important for you to know.

As I went through this process, my intern was intrigued so he looked up his credit score and found it he was in the low 600’s.  Ouch!  What was the primary culprit? He didn’t have any credit cards or any credit history.  His parents had warned him of getting into credit card debt, so he avoided them.   Getting his credit score was an eye opening experience since he’ll be soon graduating and joining the real world.

Have you had any credit score surprises?  What did you do about it?


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Comments | 37 Responses

  1. says

    Thanks for doing all the detective work for us Jeff!

    I suspect the credit score puzzle will only get more complex as the credit bureaus keep adding in additional scoring criteria to help get a more comprehensive view on a borrower’s ability to pay back a loan.

  2. Ken says

    I checked my scores at and My credit score at creditkarma was 765 and my from Equifax was 802. So, if I read everything correctly, my creditkarma score should have been higher because it is a ”consumer education” score. Might be another one of those credit score mysteries…..

  3. Andrew says

    Great post! Thanks for doing this research and sharing it. I’ve been going crazy trying to understand why MyFico (yep, I paid for it, too!) gave me different credit scores than a mortgage lender who recently ran my scores. I disagree with Dave Ramsey as well. Credit scores ARE important because lenders use it to determine (along with other factors) what kind of interest rate you can get on a loan.

  4. says

    Thanks for the information. Working on an article right now about how the FICO 8 will effect consumers, but your article reminded me that many consumers have no idea about even the basics when it comes to credit scores.

  5. steelers1234 says

    i just check my chedit score through the internet they were 681 683 and 687, I bought a new vehicle and they told me my credit score was 591, did they use the fico score

  6. Michele Dobbs says

    I would like to propose a class action lawsuit against Transunion. I PAID for a credit report and score from Transunion. The score was 756. I felt fairly safe I could get a decent interest rate. My mortgage broker pulled my credit and score less than 24 hours later and it was 100 points, yes 100 points less.

    I contacted Transunion and they said the score given depended upon the model they used to provide the score and that the number I got is always going to be higher than the number given to a potential creditor.

    Why pay for a score if it/s meaningless. Transunion should state that in their advertisements that the score given is not the real score given to creditors. They don’t, why–no one would pay them for the score.

    I would love to find an attorney brave enough to take on Transunion who is taking our money and providing no benefit. In my opinion. It’s fraud.

    • Rita Stallings says

      I am having the exact same problem. I’ve been paying Transunion/ TrueCredit for years to be able to keep up with my credit scores which is 748-674-696. I contacted My and found out they had my Equifax report showing 100 points (596) below what True Credit had shown on my report. I also feel they should repay me all the money they have taken from me. I also feel that 596 is much to low as my credit report is not that bad and I do not owe much money. I am so perplexed I just don’t know who to believe.

  7. Brian says

    mike dobbs is absolutely correct. what good is it to buy their product when it is completely worthless??? give me my money back.

  8. paulette says

    OMG!! I applied for a mortgage recently because I got my three “scores” and thought I was okay. And the lender showed I was about 100 points less than what I thought. Boy was I mad. I thought I was the only one who didn’t have a clue. This article is an eye-opener. I do have a question. If there were late payments in the past, how long before they don’t hurt so much in the rear? I know they will be there for at least 7 years. Everything was paid off in full and all have been paid on time for two years. I was just wondering…..

    • Sandi says

      Your payment history only goes back 2 years, so if you’ve been on time for 2 years then it won’t show any of your late payments, and payment history is about 30% of your credit scoring. An actual creditor, good or bad stays on your report for 7 years. Inquiries are on for 2 years. Bankruptcy can be 7 or 10 years depending on which kind of bankruptcy you file. Pull your credit report, not just your scores. You’ll see your payment history!

      • Keath Flohr says

        Not true. Late payments show up for 7 years. About 5 years ago I was laid off and got behind on student loans. I have been on time now for over 4 years and they still show up in the “30-day, 60-day, 90-day late” category. Fortunately they are so far behind that they have less impact as they used to .

  9. Peggy says

    Excellent Article. My experience has been wasted money purchasing scores that are varying 100 point spread. In the process of credit repair this is quite upsetting….why can’t there be one score?????—then we would all know what we are getting. Thank you again.

  10. New Jeff Rose fan says

    THANK YOU SO SO MUCH for explaining this fairly convoluted credit score maze in way that was both an easy to understand and actually interesting. Your article was very helpful, and now, a whole lot of things i’d been confused about, suddenly all make sense.

    One part i did not truly grasp, though, was how a FICA score could change much in a single day. Well, of course, if that day you were late on a payment, or took out a big loan, sure, the score would change,
    but, otherwise, i didn’t quite get how the FICA score could change much on a day where not a lot happened financially to a person.

    still, thank you again. I wish more people could take boring and complicated topics and inform us about them in such an entertaining and informative way as this author, Jeff Rose does.
    [Jeff, since you are adept at explaining complex, multi-faceted things, can you now explain to me how to save my computer’s Firefox bookmarks prior to installing the new windows8 OS? ha.]

    PS—Oddly, in the smaller print, on something on the FICA site called “score watch” feature————-it called my fica an
    “Equarian FICA score” yet it was from the actual,

    and it said, my FICA score was 728 “based on my FICA score and my equarian credit report”
    which confused me. I thought it would just be ‘plain’ FICA score, and was surprised the other 2 major credit reporting agencies were Not mentioned…?????????

    i used the “free 10 day trial thing, if that made a difference…? hope i remember to cancel it now before 10 days goes by…

      • David R says

        Not true. The whole site and forums contradict themselves too much. This is the reason for mass confusion Pole 100 points lower 35 lower. I got 1 point difference on one score and 60 points on another. They give you FICO8 but logs say mortgage lenders use FICO 4 or 98. The whole credit part is a scam to suck the lifeblood of people just wanting to buy a house. It s no wonder the American Citizen is one of the most medicated cultures of the world. I am no better off reading as much as I have, then when I was told years ago to keep one credit card to be used for emergencies. I have used disputes to knock off double jeopardies form one company that received my payments to have another add to it with know knowledge of who there are. List as original owner when original owner was a medical company. Disputes fall to way side because they already handled it once and unless new information (documents) can be provided, it remains. Scores drop when a collection is posted that is not supposed to go to you. Takes months to repair and yet the score climbs at a fraction the speed it drops. For someone else’s mistake. The whole thing a clustered joke where it appears bankers laugh and companies like MyFico offer the true FICO to find out it is not the ones lenders are using for the scores. FCRA really needs to hammer home. Even as much as I dislike the government in my business. This whole FICO/FACKO and F**KO needs a makeover.

        • David R says

          Yes misspellings in here, so back away Grammar Nazis. The frustration of make things right to buy a house when information is so skewed by what I have witnessed and read. But then again, its the internet, Bonjour!

      • anon says

        MyFico has several different scores. Mortgage scores are pulled from the 3 bureaus but they still don’t use what lenders use. For example, MyFico uses TransUnion 98 to pull — mortgage lenders use Trans Union Classic 04.
        My Fico used to use Equifax Beacon and now I hear they’re using something else.
        I’m no expert but it’s discussed on the forums.

      • Hugh Ross says

        But you said it is the CONSUMER ‘REAL’ FICO score from them, not the ‘MORTGAGE LENDER’ FICO score rate.

        Would you like some artificial milk, real cream Ice milk with that order? Absoloutly ZERO transfats except where the government says that less than 2% TRANSFATS can be counted as ZERO.. It’s a crazy, lying cheating world we live in.

  11. Jeff says

    I’ve been watching for a year now and have got my FICO score to about 660. (Was 550). I’m also paying a company to remove really old and bogos claims on my credit reports. This is going on for 2 months now and they have removed about 5 things on each credit company. Today I went and paid for the to see how it looks. 550 is my score WTH!!!! how is it MUCH lower than my Fico. I mean I have almost perfect credit for over 8 years now with many credits paid off including vehicles. Can someone please explain? Thanks, Jeff

  12. Raul says

    i see you keep promoting but why are we forced to keep for 3 months??? seems like this page is more like a advertisement page ! just like all the others!

  13. David says

    The same information is in all three of my credit reporting agency’s. Transunion 657 , Equifax 677and Experian 678. But Trans union score is a lot lower. They are even reporting I have bad credit history. But the same (Identical )history is in the other two. Why is TranUnion so different?

  14. Bill says

    This was a very interesting article, however I also read in “Consumer Reports” that is not recommended… and a “waste of money”… gosh, who am I to believe??

    • Tina says

      I monitor my credit on credit karma which gives my scores as TU 664 EQ 680 which I calculate to be about 50 points less. I paid $1 for 10 day trial on Experian and EX says my score is 633, so I applied for a cc which I was denied for due to insufficient credit history but they gave me my score as a courtesy which was 729. So my question, which score is correct? I’m more inclined to go with the 729 as that’s coming from the credit card company.

  15. Matt Aamold says

    I don’t like the govt. stepping in at the drop of a hat and I’m all for capitalism but I’ve always been of the opinion that because our “entire country” runs on credit scores that there should be a govt. agency setting guidelines and rules for credit. Credit scores will continue to get more confusing and consumers will continue to be taken advantage of until a major change is made..

    • Hugh Ross says

      The FCRA (Federal Credit Reporting Act) was written by the agencies and approved by the agencies.

      Ever use a fox to guard a henhouse? Growl.

  16. mark says

    I recently applied for a refinance of my home. lender pulled scores and all 3 wee dead on with my

  17. Tina says

    I monitor my credit on credit karma which gives my scores as TU 664 EQ 680 which I calculate to be about 50 points less. I paid $1 for 10 day trial on Experian and EX says my score is 633, so I applied for a cc which I was denied for due to insufficient credit history but they gave me my score as a courtesy which was 729. So my question, which score is correct? I’m more inclined to go with the 729 as that’s coming from the credit card company.

  18. Valarie says

    We are starting the process of building a house. Two months ago we had a mortgage broker pull our credit. was showing around a 620 at that time. When the mortgage broker pulled my credit my scores were 567/567/587 he said it is because it is a different scoring model mortgage companies use than even banks. Which is highly irritating because I just refinanced my car based on the 620 that my local credit union had pulled. We have to have a 620 for a VA loan and we have about 10 months before we will close. Today shows 642/638/649. My question is why was the mortgage brokers credit report so different than the Equifax pulled from my bank? Could he have a system that was not live vs live? Would we be better off going through a regional bank mortgage that may use “bank” scores or will they pull the same scores?

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