Is FICO Score 8 or FICO Score of 9 Better?

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Is FICO Score 9’s lesser popularity compared to FICO Score 8 a cause for concern? If you’re navigating the world of credit scoring models used by lenders, you’ll likely encounter FICO Score 9 and FICO Score 8. Introduced to improve upon its predecessor’s limitations, FICO Score 9 hasn’t quite overtaken the longstanding preference lenders have for FICO Score 8. Many lenders still rely on the previous FICO 8 credit scoring model for credit approvals. This blog will delve into the differences between these models, their impact on credit scoring, and the implications for credit applications.

Key Takeaways:

  • FICO Score 9 was introduced as an improvement upon the FICO Score 8 model.
  • Despite its improvements, FICO Score 9 has not gained widespread popularity among lenders.
  • Many lenders still prefer to use the older FICO Score 8 model for credit approvals.
  • Understanding the differences between these models is crucial for managing your financial health effectively.
  • Exploring the impact of these scoring models on your creditworthiness will help you make informed decisions about your finances.
what does fico score 9 mean

Understanding FICO® Scores: A Foundation

Before dissecting the differences between FICO Score 9 and FICO Score 8, it’s crucial to understand the essence of FICO credit scores. FICO, or Fair Isaac Corporation, developed a scoring system that’s become a cornerstone in U.S. credit assessment. FICO credit scores, ranging from 300 (poor) to 850 (excellent), serve as a gauge for lenders to determine an individual’s credit risk.

FICO® Score 9: The Latest Evolution

FICO Score 9 introduces pivotal changes aimed at creating a more accurate and fair credit assessment. Here’s what’s new:

  • Evaluating Collection Accounts: It disregards paid collections, reducing the negative impact on scores for those who’ve settled their debts.
  • Treatment of Medical Collections: Medical debt is given less weight, acknowledging that such financial burdens might not reflect true creditworthiness.
  • Updated Scoring Model: The model has been refined, especially benefiting individuals with limited credit history, thereby enabling lenders to make more informed decisions.
Credit Score Range Spectrum

Credit Score Range Spectrum (300-850)

FICO 8 Avg
FICO 9 Avg
Poor (300-579) – Fair (580-669) – Good (670-799) – Excellent (800-850)
300 850

The Ripple Effect of FICO® Score 9 Changes

The adjustments in FICO® Score 9 aim to offer a more accurate depiction of a consumer’s creditworthiness. Specifically, they lessen the blow of medical collections on credit scores, potentially aiding those with such debts. These changes not only align with consumer protection objectives but also herald good news for those aspiring for higher scores and more equitable credit evaluations.

Why FICO® Score 8 Reigns Supreme

Despite FICO® Score 9’s advancements, FICO® Score 8 maintains its dominance, being the go-to model in over 90% of U.S. lending decisions. This enduring preference underscores the need for consumers to understand how it influences credit decisions, highlighting the importance of its established methodology and historical reliability.

FICO Score 8 vs. FICO Score 9 Comparison

Credit Activity FICO Score 8 FICO Score 9
Medical Debt Heavily weighted Less weight
Rental Payments Not included Considered
Paid Collections Still considered Disregarded
Credit Inquiries Moderate impact Less impact
Credit Utilization High impact High impact with nuanced view
Credit History Length Significant impact Similar impact with more granularity
New Credit Reviewed within context Reviewed with additional context

Understanding the Loyalty of Lenders towards FICO® Score 8

Lenders’ affinity for FICO Score 8 boils down to its proven accuracy in credit risk assessment and the industry’s familiarity with its framework. Its consistent performance and comparability across evaluations have cultivated a trust that’s hard to shake. While FICO Score 9 offers beneficial updates, the industry’s inertia and the logistical hurdles of transitioning to a new model keep FICO Score 8, the most commonly used model, at the forefront. However, it’s worth noting that FICO Score 10, the latest version of the scoring model, has been developed by FICO® to offer even better predictive accuracy than earlier versions.

FICO® Score 9: The Road Ahead

While FICO Score 9 has made strides in adoption, replacing FICO Score 8 is a slow and uncertain journey. Its nuanced approach, particularly in handling medical collections, is a step forward. Yet, the transition is hampered by logistical and cost considerations. The credit industry’s readiness to embrace this model and its comparative effectiveness will ultimately dictate its future.

Medical Collections and Rent Payments: FICO® Score 9’s New Frontier

FICO® Score 9 stands out by integrating medical collections and rental payment history into its scoring model, resulting in changes to credit score calculations. This evolution offers a more holistic evaluation of creditworthiness, potentially boosting scores for those with consistent rental payment histories. What makes FICO Score 9 particularly interesting, though, are the changes when it comes to paid collection accounts. With FICO Score 9, collection accounts that are defined as paid in full on credit reports are now discounted in credit score calculations. This inclusion of paid collection accounts in the score calculations is a significant update that reflects a more comprehensive assessment of an individual’s creditworthiness.

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Enhancing Your FICO® Score 9

To elevate your FICO® Score 9, focus on maintaining a robust payment history and keeping credit card balances low. Ensure your rental history, as well as having a mix of different types of credit, are accurately reported, and periodically check for inaccuracies. FICO provides tools to monitor your score, offering insights into how various factors, such as credit accounts and types of credit, influence your credit standing.

Overcoming FICO® Score 9 Challenges

Navigating FICO® Score 9’s landscape means understanding its nuances, from the impact of medical collections to addressing thin credit files. Being proactive about your credit utilization and how different financial behaviors affect your score is key to leveraging FICO® Score 9 effectively.

The Future of FICO® Scores and Creditworthiness Decisions

With ongoing advancements in its scoring models, FICO is improving credit evaluations to the advantage of consumers. The latest version, FICO® Score 9, takes into account rental history and handles debts more accurately, reflecting a holistic approach to determining creditworthiness. This dedication to innovation indicates a future where scores will better align with an individual’s actual financial situation. For instance, our credit usage of credit has significantly increased over time, prompting updates to FICO® Scores to accommodate this shift in behavior. Without such updates, what is now considered normal credit usage would be perceived as higher risk compared to previous years.

Potential Pros and Cons if FICO® Score 9 is Widely Adopted

Understanding FICO Score 9’s broader adoption is vital. Its nuanced treatment of various debts and its potential implications on different types of loans could reshape the credit landscape. However, the transition also poses challenges, necessitating a balanced examination of its benefits and drawbacks.

Projected Trends: Is FICO® Score 9 the Future?

The trajectory of FICO Score 9 will be shaped by its impact on the credit industry—from credit card debt to personal loans. Its potential to redefine credit access and the industry’s reception to this new model will be pivotal in determining its place in future financial assessments.

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The Significance of Your FICO® Score

Your FICO® Score is more than just a number; it’s a reflection of your financial habits that influences everything from credit card approvals to auto loans. Understanding its implications and how different models like FICO Score 8 and FICO Score 9 assess your creditworthiness is crucial for financial well-being.

Navigating Between FICO® Score 9 and FICO® Score 8

Improving your FICO® Score 9 is a positive step, but if lenders continue to favor FICO® Score 8, you’ll need to understand how both scores are calculated. Being informed about the nuances between the two can guide you in making informed credit decisions and managing your financial health effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is FICO 8 or FICO 9 better?

Both models have their merits. FICO Score 9 offers a more nuanced treatment of certain debts, while FICO Score 8 remains the industry standard. The best score depends on your unique credit situation and the lender’s chosen model.

Where can I get FICO Score 9?

Major credit bureaus and some financial institutions provide access to FICO Score 9. It’s beneficial for those with limited credit histories but remember, not all lenders use this model for credit decisions.

FICO 8 vs. FICO 9: Which is usually higher?

It varies. While both scores consider similar factors, FICO 9’s different treatment of paid collections and medical debt can influence which is higher for an individual. Regular monitoring and understanding of these scores are essential.

Are lenders using FICO Score 9 now or older versions?

Many lenders continue to use FICO Score 8 due to its established track record and the logistical challenges of updating systems. However, FICO Score 9’s adoption is growing. Always confirm with lenders which model they use.


While FICO Score 9 introduces significant enhancements, its journey to surpass the prevalent FICO Score 8 is ongoing and fraught with industry hesitance. Regardless of the model used by lenders, the key to creditworthiness remains the same: responsible financial behavior, timely payments, and diligent debt management. Staying informed and proactive is your best strategy in a world where credit scores play a pivotal role in financial opportunities.