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How Accurate Are Credit Estimators?

Quick answer? Close enough.

A while back I wrote about two free credit score estimates tools [3]: myFICO’s Credit Estimator and CreditKarma [4]. In the course of reviewing myFICO’s ScoreWatch [5], I learned my actual credit score. So the natural question was, how did my real score compare to my actual score?

The answer is that they were close, but not within the same “tier” of credit quality. The difference isn’t surprising though because they used data from different bureaus and each used their own equation for calculating the score. I think the scores were “close enough” to validate the use of credit score estimators. Here’s how they stacked up.

Here’s what the scores were:

myFICO’s ScoreWatch uses real Equifax data and scoring equation, the Credit Estimator uses no data, and CreditKarma uses TransUnion data but their own equation.

Verdict? Estimators are good enough for the casual user, but if you’re planning on getting a loan and need to know your score, nothing beats the real number. myFICO ScoreWatch has a free 30 day trial that you can cancel online, so technically you can use it to get your score.

If you’re planning on getting a big loan, my first step would be to get a copy of your report from each bureau for free through the government’s AnnualCreditReport.com [6] site. Fix whatever problems you may find, wait a month, then do the trial to get your score. There’s no point getting a score, at either CreditKarma or myFICO, if you might have errors on your account.

(Photo: auntiep [7])