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jello77
Posts: 50
Registered: ‎08-02-2010

The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations

[ Edited ]

 

 

The many flavors of FICO:

A summary of FICO editions, versions, and variations


 

One of the first things a newcomer to this board learns is the importance of distinguishing between FICO and FAKO scores. FAKO refers to the many non-FICO scores being sold by various companies. FAKO scores have little value since few of them are actually used by lenders and they do not match closely to FICO scores.

 

But even when you stick with FICO scores, confusion can ensue because FICO scores have many different editions, versions, and variations. On a single day, a consumer could theoretically have dozens of different FICO scores, depending on which version, sub-version, and credit agency is used to produce the score.

 

In this post, I have attempted to provide a summary of the many FICO flavors available in the marketplace. The summary is intended for newcomers and anyone else who may be experiencing the same confusion about FICO versions I had when first learning about credit scores.

 

The information below has been taken from numerous sources, and I hope all is correct. Please feel free to offer corrections or updates to anything in this post, and I will edit them in.

 

 

**********************************************************************************************

 

 


The FICO scoring model with its familiar range of 300 to 850 was first introduced in 1989. Since then, FICO has released four major revisions to the model. The approximate dates of the revisions are 1995, 1998, 2004, and 2008. Each FICO "edition" uses a different formula and produces a different score.

 

When a new FICO edition is released, many lenders continue using an older version for many years before "upgrading," just as many computer users stay with older versions of software. The 1995 FICO revision is no longer in common use, but the three later editions are still used by lenders.

 

At this time, the 2004 FICO edition appears to be the most commonly used by lenders (and is used by almost all mortgage lenders). Some still use the 1998 edition, and the 2008 edition is making steady progress. American Express and Citibank are two major lenders that recently started using the 2008 edition.

 

Each edition of the FICO model is commonly known by the approximate year in which it was released: FICO 98, FICO 04, and FICO 08 (although FICO officially calls it FICO 8, without the zero).

 

For each edition of the scoring model, FICO produces several variations. In addition to a standard or "classic" version, FICO offers "Industry Option" versions customized for lenders such auto, mortgage, insurance, and credit cards. These industry versions have a different score range of 250 to 900, and they produce scores that are not fully comparable with the classic FICO versions.

 

Adding an additional layer of complexity is the fact that each credit agency (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) uses customized versions of each of the various FICO editions and industry sub-versions. As a result, a consumer's FICO scores from each agency may differ even when all credit information is identical among the agencies.

 

Because there are so many different versions of FICO scores, whenever a score is received, it is helpful to know which version it is. If a lender provides a credit score to you, ask for details such as which credit agency was used, which FICO edition was used, and whether the score is an Industry Option version. The lender may not always be willing or able to provide the answers, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

 

 

 


Special note about "real-world" score ranges:

 

All standard or "classic" FICO scores have an official or theoretical score range of 300 to 850. However a little known fact is that the actual, real-world score ranges are not 300 to 850 for all FICO classic versions.

 

When I first learned about this, I thought the information might be secret or proprietary and should not be disclosed on this board. But I have since learned this information is publicly available, and a forum moderator has indicated there is no restriction on including it in this post. These real-world score ranges have recently begun to appear on documents that credit applicants receive from potential lenders, so the information should become increasingly well-known in the future.

 

The fact that real-world "classic" score ranges are not always 300 to 850 was confirmed to me in a private email from John Ulzheimer, a former employee of both FICO and Equifax and a well-known author and expert on credit scoring issues.

 

In the summary shown below, I have included the actual, real-world minimum and maximum scores for each FICO edition for which I have obtained this information.

 

In addition to John Ulzheimer, I want to thank posters GregB and To-Be-Continued from this board who first made me aware of this information.

 

Anyone who wishes to confirm this information may do so by using Google. Search for the name of a credit agency and add the real-world score numbers shown below, and you will find numerous references to the real-world score range.

 

Here are two examples of documents showing the FICO 04 real-world score ranges for each of the three credit agencies:

 

http://www.krollfactualdata.com/kroll-factual-data/media/assets/PDFs/RBP%20Letters/H-3.PDF

 

http://www.mlslistings.com/Understanding-Credit-Scores

 

 

Below is a link to a PDF document on the Transunion web site. On pages 14 and 15, it shows the same real-world score ranges for FICO 98, FICO 04, and FICO 8 that I have cited below.

 

http://www.transunion.com/docs/rev/business/financialservices/FS_ModelsOverview.pdf


 

 


Shown below is a list of the three FICO editions now in common use, along with the names used by each credit agency for their standard or "classic" version of the model. The "common names" are those often used by posters on credit-related message boards.

 

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FICO 98    (introduced about 1998)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

____Transunion
________Official name:   FICO Risk Score, Classic 98 (formerly called Empirica)
________Common name:  TU-98
________Available directly to consumers:   from MyFICO when buying Transunion FICO score
________Real-world score range:  336 to 843

 

 


____Equifax

________Official name:   Beacon 96
________(Equifax stopped using this version in 2005)
________Available directly to consumers:   no

 

 


____Experian
________FICO 98 edition no longer in common use
________Available directly to consumers:   no

 

 

 

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FICO 04   (introduced about 2004)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The FICO 04 edition is the standard used by almost all mortgage lenders.
All three scores will normally be pulled and the middle score (not the
average) will be used by the lender.

 


____Transunion
________Official name:   FICO Risk Score, Classic 04 (formerly called Empirica)
________Common name:  TU-04
________Available directly to consumers:   no
________Real-world score range:   309 to 839

 

 


____Equifax
________Official name:   Beacon 5.0
________Common name:   EQ-04
________Available directly to consumers:   from MyFICO when buying Equifax FICO score.
________Real-world score range:   334 to 818

 

 


____Experian
________Official name:   Experian/FICO Risk Model v2 (also sometimes called FICO II)
________Common name:   EX-04
________Available directly to consumers:   PSECU credit union provides it free each month to members.
________Real-world score range:   320 to 844

 

 


NOTE_1
As shown above, the maximum score possible with FICO 04 is Experian 844. A poster by the name of bulbisaur actually achieved this score, which is the highest FICO score ever reported on this board. Below is a link to a message from him that includes an image of the three FICO scores (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) that he obtained in 2009 from MyFICO (this was shortly before Experian stopped making FICO scores available):
 
http://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Understanding-FICO-Scoring/Our-Forums-FICO-High-Achievers-Who-has-at...

 

 

 

NOTE_2
A new site called mycreditplan.org has announced it will allow consumers to purchase FICO 04 scores from all three agencies. As of Jan 2012, this site is not fully in operation, but may prove to be a useful source in the future. A thread discussing this new site is linked below. Be sure to read the whole thread before accessing the site.

 

http://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Credit-in-the-News/New-Credit-Score-Website/td-p/1086534

 

 

 

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FICO 8   (introduced about 2008)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The real-world range for "classic" FICO 8 scores extends fully up to 850.

 


____Transunion
________Official name:   FICO 8 Risk Score (also sometimes called FICO Risk Score, Classic 08)
________Common name:   TU-08
________Available directly to consumers:   Walmart provides it free each month to credit card holders.

________Real-world score range:   341 to 850

 

 

 

____Equifax
________Official name:   Beacon 09 (name apparently derives from year of adoption = 2009)
________Available directly to consumers:   no

________Real-world score range:   (?)  to 850

 

 


____Experian
________Official name:   Experian/FICO Risk Model v08
________Available directly to consumers:    no

________Real-world score range:   316  to 850

 

 

 

NOTE:
The link below is to a 2011 press release describing a study of FICO scores by the company SubscriberWise. Although the FICO edition is not mentioned, I was able to confirm with the company that FICO 8 was used for the study.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110519006634/en/Statistical-Data-Individuals-Achieving-Highe...

From a sample of 250,000 credit reports, it found that 0.02% had a FICO 8 score of 850.

 

If you extrapolate the study's finding of a 0.02% rate of 850 scores, of the 177 million credit card holders in the U.S., about 35,000 would have scores of 850.

 

As use of FICO 8 becomes more common among lenders, there is a good chance we will see someone on this board achieve that perfect, mythical score of 850.

 

 

 

 

Here is a list of factors where FICO 8 differs from previous versions:

 

Utilization

High utilization of credit lines (both overall and for individual cards) will have a more negative effect on score. FICO has not said anything more than this generic statement, and I have not seen anyone attempt to quantify the effect in terms of score points.

 

Late payments

A single, isolated late payment will have less negative effect, but a pattern of numerous late payments will have more negative effect.

 

Collections

For debts with an original balance less that $100,  public records and debts that have been assigned to a 3rd party collection agency will no longer have a negative effect on score.

 

Types of credit used

About 10% of your FICO score is based on what types of credit accounts you have, including credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage loans, and finance company accounts. Having a variety of different credit types improves your score, except for finance company accounts which have a negative effect. With FICO 8, the "types of credit used" category has greater weight than before. So someone like me who has only credit cards on my report will have a lower score under FICO 8 than under previous versions.

 

Authorized users

FICO 8 changes the way it treats authorized users who are not family members of the card holder. This is intended to reduce the benefit of "piggybacking" whereby people pay credit repair companies a fee to become an authorized user of someone with a good credit score.

 

Number of accounts

Ethan Dornhelm of FICO said that under FICO 8, having "a relatively large number of open accounts in good standing will be viewed more favorably than having only a few accounts in good standing." Having only a small number of accounts that are both open and active will now have a more negative effect on your score.

 

Accounts that are open but inactive

FICO 8 is more aware of which accounts have been inactive with a 0 balance for a long time, and those accounts will factor less into your score.

 

Inquiries

When FICO 8 was originally introduced, hard inquiries had less negative effect on your score. But a later revision changed this so that inquiries continue to have about the same effect as before.

 

Scorecards

FICO 8 increases the number of "scorecards" from 10 to 12. FICO uses scorecards (sometimes called "buckets" on this board) to divide people with similar credit histories into different groups and compare them against people in those groups. The scorecard you are placed on affects your score, in part by changing the weights of the various factors used in calculating your score (the weights shown in the familiar FICO pie chart are based on a hypothetical "average" consumer). 

 

 

 

 

**********************************************************************************************

 

 


About 10 years ago, FICO released a new scoring model called NextGen which is claimed to be a major improvement over the "classic" FICO models. In producing a score, NextGen tracks many more factors and includes 18 scorecards.  But it has failed to catch on with lenders, in large part because its score range of 150 to 950 is incompatible with the classic 300 to 850 range, requiring lenders to recalculate cutoff scores and revise many rules and policies.

 

Only a small number of lenders reportedly use NextGen, which goes by the names listed below.

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FICO NextGen   (introduced about 2001)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

____Transunion
________Official name:   Precision
________Available directly to consumers:    no

 

 


____Equifax
________Official name:   Pinnacle
________Available directly to consumers:    no

 

 


____Experian
________Official name:   FICO Advanced Risk Score
________Available directly to consumers:    no

 

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
EQ-04 FICO__817__(from MyFICO)__inquiries = 0
EX-04 FICO__833__(from PSECU)__inquiries = 0
TU-98 FICO__807__(from MyFICO)__inquiries = 0
TU-08 FICO__817__(from Walmart)__inquiries = 0
Oldest account 35 yrs / Newest account 1 year / Average age 12 yrs / Total accounts 10 / Accounts reporting balance = 2 / Util = 1%

Established Contributor
pipeguy
Posts: 569
Registered: ‎10-31-2011

Re: The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations

Excellent post, I've book marked it, thank you !

*** Remember the Tallyman because he sure remembers you ***
Valued Contributor
GregB
Posts: 1,669
Registered: ‎05-24-2007

Re: The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations

[ Edited ]

Only error I spotted looking this over is that where you had: "Official name:   FICO Risk Score, Classic 08"    is that TU actually calls this: FICO 8 Risk Score

 

"Classic" seems to have been dropped by TU after FICO 04

 

I am less convinced of the dates matching up with the date, or suggestion of the date, in the name of the product. FICO 8 was developed 2005-2007 so could have been thought to be released in 2008. However FICO 04 was developed in 1998-2000, FICO 98 ws developed 1993-1995, and Next Gen was originally developed 1995-1997 with the Precision 2003 version being developed 1998-2000.

 

Your excellent post led me to look at actual docuements from EQ. This showed me that where I had been using the term "Beacon 9" that I was pulling it from my memory and the documents from EQ actually call it "Beacon 09".

New Contributor
jello77
Posts: 50
Registered: ‎08-02-2010

Re: The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations

[ Edited ]

GregB:

 

Thanks for the correction. I made a change on my post.

 

I did a search on the Transunion web site and I found references to both "FICO Risk Score, Classic 08" and "FICO 8 Risk Score" to describe TU's version of FICO 8. But "FICO 8 Risk Score" seems to be the name TU is currently using.

 

 

While searching the TU web site, I came across this PDF document:

 

http://www.transunion.com/docs/rev/business/financialservices/FS_ModelsOverview.pdf

 

On page 14 and 15, it shows the same real-world score ranges for FICO 04 and FICO 98 that I cite in my post above, and that you have cited in your previous posts.

 

I added this document to my post above. It's good to find an official document on a credit agency's web site that confirms this information.

 

 Maybe this will help convince MarineVietVet that we are right about this issue. I know he was convinced that all FICO classic scores have a real-world range up to 850.

 

You are right that the dates and names only have a loose relationship. In fact, all the names seem like they are designed to keep us confused.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
EQ-04 FICO__817__(from MyFICO)__inquiries = 0
EX-04 FICO__833__(from PSECU)__inquiries = 0
TU-98 FICO__807__(from MyFICO)__inquiries = 0
TU-08 FICO__817__(from Walmart)__inquiries = 0
Oldest account 35 yrs / Newest account 1 year / Average age 12 yrs / Total accounts 10 / Accounts reporting balance = 2 / Util = 1%

Moderator Emeritus
MarineVietVet
Posts: 14,084
Registered: ‎07-14-2009

Re: The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations


jello77 wrote:

GregB:

 

Thanks for the correction. I made a change on my post.

 

I did a search on the Transunion web site and I found references to both "FICO Risk Score, Classic 08" and "FICO 8 Risk Score" to describe TU's version of FICO 8. But "FICO 8 Risk Score" seems to be the name TU is currently using.

 

 

While searching the TU web site, I came across this PDF document:

 

http://www.transunion.com/docs/rev/business/financialservices/FS_ModelsOverview.pdf

 

On page 14 and 15, it shows the same real-world score ranges for FICO 04 and FICO 98 that I cite in my post above, and that you have cited in your previous posts.

 

I added this document to my post above. It's good to find an official document on a credit agency's web site that confirms this information.

 

 Maybe this will help convince MarineVietVet that we are right about this issue. I know he was convinced that all FICO classic scores have a real-world range up to 850.

 

You are right that the dates and names only have a loose relationship. In fact, all the names seem like they are designed to keep us confused.


I finally have an answer from my friend:

 

"Sorry to see you taking the brunt of this sticky FICO issue. I gave you the "stated" FICO score range of 300-850, as that's all I'm allowed to say. It's true, however, that all FICO models don't deliver that full range. If you asked me about "real world" score ranges I should have told you there's a discrepancy here, even though I couldn't have told you much more than that. If you didn't, then you got my standard reply. Again, I apologize for hanging you out to dry there".

 

So it looks like I misinterpreted the information I was given. I wish I could say this is the first time I've ever been wrong and that it will never happen again but alas neither of those statements would be true.  :smileyhappy:

 

 

 

From a BK years ago to:
EX - 3/11 pulled by lender- 835, EQ - 2/11-816, TU - 2/11-782

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem".

New Contributor
jello77
Posts: 50
Registered: ‎08-02-2010

Re: The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations

[ Edited ]

MarineVietVet,

 

Many thanks for your reply.

 

It's good that we finally cleared up what seemed like a real mystery.

 

I'm a little puzzled at why your source feels he was not able to be completely candid about this issue. From what I can see, the "real-world" score ranges we are talking about are not a secret. Maybe in the past they were considered proprietary information. But, as I mentioned in my post above, Transunion publishes them openly on their web site, and people are given documents with the real-world ranges from lenders. And this information is now available all over the internet.


The good news is that your Equifax score of 816 is just 2 points from the maximum possible score of 818, and your Experian score of 835 is just 9 points from the maximum score of 844.

 

That's cause for celebration!

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
EQ-04 FICO__817__(from MyFICO)__inquiries = 0
EX-04 FICO__833__(from PSECU)__inquiries = 0
TU-98 FICO__807__(from MyFICO)__inquiries = 0
TU-08 FICO__817__(from Walmart)__inquiries = 0
Oldest account 35 yrs / Newest account 1 year / Average age 12 yrs / Total accounts 10 / Accounts reporting balance = 2 / Util = 1%

Moderator Emeritus
MarineVietVet
Posts: 14,084
Registered: ‎07-14-2009

Re: The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations


jello77 wrote:

MarineVietVet,

 

Many thanks for your reply.

 

It's good that we finally cleared up what seemed like a real mystery.

 

I'm a little puzzled at why your source feels he was not able to be completely candid about this issue. From what I can see, the "real-world" score ranges we are talking about are not a secret. Maybe in the past they were considered proprietary information. But, as I mentioned in my post above, Transunion publishes them openly on their web site, and people are given documents with the real-world ranges from lenders. And this information is now available all over the internet.


The good news is that your Equifax score of 816 is just 2 points from the maximum possible score of 818, and your Experian score of 835 is just 9 points from the maximum score of 844.

 

That's cause for celebration!



He has valid reasons and I respect his decision. Perhaps some day more can be said about all this.

 

As for my scores I'm afraid they are probably a little below what they were last February and March. My utilization has risen to about 12 or 13% the last several months (It's that real life getting in the way!  :smileywink:  ) but I'm only paying 1% interest on a BT that I used to buy my son a used car and I can live with a 1% car loan. The other revolving debt is all at 0% so I'm in good shape.

 

Fortunately for me I've reached the point in my life where I no longer have to be concerned with small fluctuations in my scores. As long as I keep doing the right things (and don't do anything dumb) I will be fine.

 

 

 

From a BK years ago to:
EX - 3/11 pulled by lender- 835, EQ - 2/11-816, TU - 2/11-782

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem".

Moderator Emeritus
fused
Posts: 16,166
Registered: ‎03-12-2007

Re: The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations

The edit came out of nowhere.:smileyvery-happy:

Frequent Contributor
Kratos-TM
Posts: 426
Registered: ‎05-23-2013

Re: The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations

I know this is an old thread, but I'm still wondering if the 818 max score for EQ Beacon 5 is still legit. Seems I've seen some members here lately with higher than that from EQ04.

Myfico scores.....
EX08... 800 (11-10-13)
EQ04... 790 (12-02-13)
TU08... 810 (12-02-13)
Moderator
guiness56
Posts: 22,408
Registered: ‎01-17-2008

Re: The many flavors of FICO:__Editions, versions, and variations


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