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What Does FICO Stand For? What is a FICO Score?

by Gerri Detweiler

What is a FICO Score

What is a FICO Score?

A FICO score is a credit score developed by FICO, a company that specializes in what’s known as “predictive analytics,” which means they take information and analyze it to predict what’s likely to happen.

In the case of credit scores, FICO takes credit information and uses it to create scores that help lenders predict behavior, such as how likely someone is to pay their bills on time (or not), or whether they are able to handle a larger credit line. Scores developed by FICO can also be used to forecast which accounts are most likely to end up included in bankruptcy, or which ones are likely to be most profitable. And credit-based insurance scores, which they also create, are used to help insurance companies identify which customers are least likely to file claims.

What Does FICO Stand For?

Similar to the way Federal Express eventually became FedEx, the company that develops FICO scores used to be called Fair Isaac Co. It was often shortened to FICO and a few years ago that became the official name.

To create credit scores, they use information provided by one of the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. But FICO itself is not a credit reporting agency.

Though FICO scores are the most widely used among lenders, there are other scores lenders can choose from, such as the VantageScore which is becoming more widely used.

What Goes Into FICO Scores?

The FICO score range is 300 – 850, with the higher number representing less risk to the lender or insurer. Consumers with high FICO scores (usually around 760 or higher, though every lender is different) are likely to get the best rates when they borrow, as well as the best discounts on insurance.

There is a popular FICO score chart that describes the main factors that go into these scores:

Payment History (35%)
Debt/Amounts Owed (30%)
Age of credit history (15%)
New credit/inquiries (10%)
Mix of accounts/types of credit (10%)

All of these factors are considered in other credit score models, so it’s safe to say that if you have a strong FICO score you likely have a good score with other models as well. When you check your credit score, don’t get too hung up on the specific number. Instead, focus on what areas of your credit are strong and which ones you might want to work on.

How to Get Your Credit Score

With’s free Credit Report Card you will get a free credit score from Experian & VantageScore. This is not a trial offer, and there is nothing to cancel.

You can also purchase a FICO score online and you should also get a disclosure that includes this information if you are turned down for credit or charged more by a lender.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    We address a lot of your questions in this article: Why Do I Have So Many Credit Scores?. As for why you have to pay for FICO’s scores, that’s a business decision they have made. They aren’t required by law to provide consumers with free FICO scores.

  • Terry

    The issue is not whether or not you pay your premiums. The issue is the likelihood that you will make a future claim, thus costing the insurance company much more than your insurance premium.

  • andre_janew

    FICO scores are provided for free by Discover and Merrick bank. Discover has the score on your monthly statement, whereas with Merrick you need to log on to your account to get it. According to Credit Karma, my TransUnion score is 680. According to, my Experian score is 704. According to Discover and Merrick bank my FICO scores are 639 and 626, respectively. You don’t have to pay for your scores, you just have to know where to look for them.

    • R

      I can’t seem to find where to access my FICO score on the Merrick Bank website, just a document about understanding how to read your FICO score. I only have a credit card with them, could this be why? They also, unfortunately, don’t have a search bar.

    • Yilin Li

      My score is opposite to yours, . . . My experian is 717, . . . . my transUnion is 734 and Equifax is 736. You just can’t figure out how they calculate the score. No correlation between agencies.

  • Leo

    do medical bills hurt your credit score

  • Gerri Detweiler

    The score you are seeing is the FICO NextGen score. Most FICO ranges are 300 – 850 but this is one of the few that isn’t.

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  • Meet Our Expert

    gerri_detweiler GravatarGerri Detweiler is's Director of Consumer Education. She focuses on helping people understand their credit and debt, and writes about those issues, as well as financial legislation, budgeting, debt recovery and savings strategies. She is also the co-author of Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights, and Reduce Stress: Real-Life Solutions for Solving Your Credit Crisis as well as host of
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