Ask the Experts: Climbing the credit score range

By: Carole Makela
Professor in the School of Education, part of Colorado State University’s College of Health and Human Sciences

(Originally appeared in a WalletHub article, “Credit Scores Range From 300 to 850: Learn The Scale”.)

Carole Makela Professor, School of Education

How beneficial is it for consumers that both of the most popular credit-scoring models now use the same range (300-850)?

May lessen confusion as to why their scores have been different, but the range is broad enough that “why” will still be of concern. Without knowing the algorithm that is used for each, an action that changes one score may differentially change the other, motivating yet another “why?” It is complex, but it would be helpful to consumers to have information so that they could know the impact on their scores when they are in a situation to weigh one action against another (seek a new card vs. run up a balance to near maximum on cards already owned) — even if this was scaled not by specific point change, but by “small reduction (20 or less)” in points, or “moderate increase (70 or more)” in points.

Do you think uniformity in the credit-score range has helped to promote the idea that there is a single “real” credit score?

Only if each is in a fairly narrow range of +/- 25 points, and an action that changes the score changes each at least in the same direction.

Is it important to consistently check the same type of credit score, to accurately gauge your position on the credit-score scale?

Yes, as it is an indicator of how recent actions have affected the score (this is assuming that the algorithm has not changed), and there is an indicated (disclosure) of the lag time between the action and the updating of the score.