You Have Three FICO Credit Scores
A lender can acquire your FICO credit score at all three major credit reporting agencies (aka credit bureaus) -- Experian, Trans Union and Equifax; however, your credit score will probably vary at each of the three credit bureaus because each has different information about you and doesn't share their data with each other. For example, your current auto loan might be reported only to Equifax, while your credit card account is reported only to Experian and TransUnion.
To get the most accurate picture of your creditworthiness, it would be wise to find out what your FICO credit score is with all three credit bureaus, particularly since you don't know if your lender will pull your credit score at Experian, Equifax, TransUnion or all three.
Your credit score with each credit bureau can vary dramatically. For example, suppose you have very good credit except for one credit card that you have paid late on twice. That particular credit card issuer subscribes to Experian and Trans Union, but not Equifax, and so your late payment notations are reported only on those two credit bureaus' credit reports. Since your Equifax credit report does not include the late payment notations, your FICO score at Equifax will be higher than your Experian and Trans Union credit scores.
Variances in your FICO credit score at each credit bureau can also be caused by the particular mix of account types being reported to that agency. For example, your mortgage lender might subscribe only to Experian, your auto loan finance company might subscribe to Equifax and Trans Union, while the personal loan you took out might be reported exclusively to Equifax. Some of your accounts might not be reported at all. If you examined your Equifax, Trans Union and Experian credit reports, you might find that one agency has a significant amount of data about you while another has very little. These factors can result in a sigificant different in your FICO credit score from one credit bureau to another.
You Have Three Credit Scores
For the reasons above, it would be wise to find out what all three FICO credit scores are on a regular basis, and certainly if you are planning to apply for a mortgage loan in the next year or two, so you have plenty of time to fix any errors. Many mortgage lenders will pull all three FICO credit scores and approve your loan and interest rate on the middle figure. Others might use the highest figure, the lowest figure, or just that provided by a specific credit burea.
The credit bureaus have different names for their FICO credit scores:
Experian -- called the "Experian / Fair Isaac Risk Model"
Equifax -- called the "Beacon credit score"
Trans Union -- called the "Empirica"
You can purchase your FICO-based credit score at Equifax (equifax.com), TransUnion (transunion.com) and Experian (experian.com) for a small fee; however, federal law requires the three credit reporting agencies to give you one free credit report every year. Click here for details.