Here’s What VantageScore’s New Credit-Scoring Formula Means for Your Wallet

The way some credit scores are calculated is about to change — and it could mean that bigger changes are on the way soon.

VantageScore, the nation’s second-most-prominent credit-scoring firm (behind long-time industry leader FICO), announced changes to its scoring formula last month. The most important change is the inclusion of so-called “trending data” in the formula, and it is likely the start of something big.

[See: 12 Simple Ways to Raise Your Credit Score.]

Until now, a credit score has typically been a snapshot of a moment in time. The credit-scoring formula uses information in your current credit report — how much you owe, how much available credit you have, how many late payments you’ve made and so on — to assign you a score. That score, ranging from 300 to 850 for both VantageScore and FICO, is intended to show your risk as a borrower. If your score is 550, you’re probably pretty risky. If your score is 750, you’re probably not.

VantageScore 4.0, the latest version of the credit-scoring formula, which will be available this fall, will incorporate trending data into its calculations. That means that the score will no longer be a single snapshot but rather a more insightful, detailed view of your ability to handle credit and debts responsibly.

Here’s an example:

Say you’re about to apply for a mortgage and have about $5,000 in credit card debt. If you once had $10,000 in debt but have diligently chipped away at it in recent months — paying on time, every time — and gotten that debt down to just $5,000, the scoring formula will likely reward you for your efforts. That downward trajectory for your debt makes you look more responsible and less risky to the formula. On the flip side, the formula won’t take as kindly to that $5,000 in debt if it has instead grown from just $500 in recent months. The formula will view that as a danger sign and may ding your score accordingly.

[See: 10 Easy Ways to Pay Off Debt.]

While this trended data is new to credit-scoring…

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