A Credit Score That Cuts You a Break

Changes to the formula for VantageScore may benefit the millions of consumers who are currently scoreless.

For once, changes to the way a credit score is calculated could work in your favor. VantageScore has announced that it is updating its formula. The change with the most potential benefit: If you pay off the balance of an account that has gone to collection, VantageScore will not consider it a black mark against you. Under the current version of the FICO score, VantageScore’s major com­petitor, paid-off collection accounts can still have a negative impact on credit scores.

VantageScore is also changing its scale to match FICO’s range of 300 to 850, making the two easier to compare (although the numbers won’t be identical). And VantageScore claims that it could provide credit scores for 27 million to 30 million consumers who are now scoreless. Its new formula permits scores for anyone who has had an account reported to the credit bureaus in the past two years, rather than just the past six months. That could be good news for, say, retirees, who may have an infrequent need for credit, says Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com. You can purchase your Experian VantageScore for $8 at www.experian.com; the new version of the score should be incorporated into the three major credit agencies’ product lineups later this year.

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Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.