The Difference Between Your Consumer Credit Score and Your Mortgage Lending Credit Score

For consumers looking at their credit score from a free website and then through a mortgage lender, they might be surprised at the variability of their numbers. There are over fifty scoring models available. Each one tailored to understand a specific type of debt, industry, or service. Each algorithm placing a different weight on certain facets, to the point scores can fluctuate by as much as 100 points.

That is why in this article, we strive to differentiate between credit scores pulled by consumers and credit scores pulled by lenders. Hopefully, to help people better understand the logic behind what their score will be when applying for a mortgage.


One of the most common risk analysis models is the FICO score. Most likely, this is what consumers will use to gauge how lenders will view their susceptibility at handling larger loans. Since most financial providers, such as banks or credit card companies, offer a free credit score when you use their service, this is a great route to understand the process.

FICO bases its model on a few variables:

  • Payment History: 35%
  • Amount owed: 30%
  • Length of credit history: 15%
  • Credit Mix: 10%
  • New Credit: 10%

Like the FICO Score, VantageScore is a risk analysis model, and has been dubbed as the most consistent, predictive and accurate measure of consumer creditworthiness. Their scale is similar to the FICO model, and is often times found on websites such as Credit Karma.

  • Payment history: Extremely influential
  • Age and type of credit: Highly influential
  • Percentage of credit limit used: Highly influential
  • Total balances / debt: Moderately influential
  • Recent credit behavior: Less influential
  • Available credit: Less influential


Mortgage Lenders use higher constraints. The debt is larger, which means there is higher risk. What score consumers get on a free site will often be broad and encompass constraints taken into consideration by auto lenders, banks, credit card issuers, etc. Mortgage lenders encapsulate one area, mortgage loans to buy a home.

They use the same variables free credit scores will use, but the parameters are industry specific. Getting a few thousand dollars for a car is different than six figures for a mortgage. Your debt to income ratio on an auto loan can be up to 50%. For a mortgage loan, no more than 36%. Different weight, different numbers.

Most mortgage lenders only base their decisions on FICO scores. They can use scores from up to three credit reporting buraus.

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • Transunion

If the lender uses more than one CRA, they take the lower of two scores, or find the median of all three. Depending on what service you are using, whether that be free or through a lender, you may have one agency parsing your information or all three.

And at the end of the day, it is about risk. Industry-specific scores are optimized for whatever debt, industry, or service the consumer is involved with.




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