Raising the bar…again.

By Barrett Burns, President and CEO of VantageScore

One of the questions we wrestle with the most is how much information is too much information. This challenge relates to consumers, lenders and regulators interested in our credit scoring models.

For lenders, some want deep-dive, analytically-driven analysis to ensure model performance, safety and soundness, while others want to know simply, “What’s in it for me?”

To effectively do their jobs, regulators must also have access to the intricacies of our models including our fair lending and predictive performance testing.

By the same token, we want consumers to be empowered to make prudent credit decisions and to fully understand the implications of their actions on their resulting credit score. But what’s the best way to accomplish this without confusing them with “industry speak” and jargon?

For consumers, financial literacy and credit education delivered in an interactive, bilingual way is absolutely critical. For lenders, model transparency and governance should be the focus.  

I believe we do this as good as, or better, than anyone. But as an industry we should always strive to do better.

Along those same lines, I’m pleased to include in this month’s newsletter the results of our annual model performance assessment. A short overview is included in this newsletter, which links to a detailed paper that examines VantageScore 4.0 (our latest model) across the following important parameters:

  1. Predictiveness for both the Mainstream consumer population (i.e., those who are conventionally scored by generic scoring models) and the approximately 40 million consumers who are considered “Newly Scored” (i.e., those who can be scored with VantageScore 4.0 but fail to meet the required criteria by conventional models).
  2. Consistency of the VantageScore 4.0 scores obtained from all three of the national credit reporting companies (CRCs) and the predictive performance associated with those scores.
  3. Statistical bias, if any, related to the ethnicity of various consumer groups.

We are unique in that we make this information public. Having said that, this is only the first step for lenders. Lenders should validate their own proprietary models, as well as vendor-developed models such as VantageScore, and do so within their own unique lending environments.

As I mentioned, this is one way we seek to increase education surrounding our credit scoring models. Below I’ve listed a number of other resources we make available to address this challenge:

For consumers:

For lenders:

For regulators:

All of this information is available on our websites: (for lenders) and (for consumers).

Barrett Burns
CEO and president, VantageScore Solutions

Consumer credit after the crisis

Experian’s latest State of Credit report examines consumer credit scores a decade after heading into the financial crisis.

The report highlights credit scores and card balances of all generations, breaks down credit behaviors of males and females in 2008, and compares the information with 2018 data.

Experian®, the leading global information services company, released key findings from its annual State of Credit report today. To compile the report, Experian looked closely at today’s consumer credit behaviors and compared them with those in 2008 — the year the United States headed into its worst recession in 80 years. Experian’s research showed that, while Americans’ credit scores are not as high as they were at the start of the economic downturn, 2018 marks the largest year-over-year increase since 2008, with an average VantageScore®1 of 680.

“We’re continuing to see the positive effects of economic recovery, through improved credit scores and lower delinquency rates,” said Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics and business development at Experian. “Since the recession, responsible credit card behaviors and lower debt among younger consumers are driving an upward trend in average credit scores across the nation. Over the past 10 years, those 18 to 21 increased their credit scores by 23 points on average compared with those 18 to 21, ten years ago.”

Highlights of Experian’s State of Credit report:

10-year comparison 2008 2017 2018
Average number of credit cards 3.40 3.06 3.04
Average credit card balances $7,101 $6,354 $6,506
Average number of retail credit cards 3.03 2.48 2.59
Average retail credit card balances $1,759 $1,841 $1,901
Average VantageScore2 685 675 680
Average revolving utilization 28% 30% 30%
Average nonmortgage debt3 $23,929 $24,706 $25,104
Average mortgage debt $191,357 $201,811 $208,180
Average 30 days past due delinquency rates 5.4% 4.0% 3.9%
Average 60 days past due delinquency rates 2.9% 1.9% 1.9%
Average 90+ days past due delinquency rates  7.1% 7.3% 6.7%

Generational divide

The downturn impacted the financial behaviors of consumers of all ages differently. When comparing the credit behaviors of different age groups in 2008 and 2018, Experian found:

  • The oldest group, those aged 72 and older, experienced some significant changes. While this group continues to have higher credit scores than any other, it saw the most significant drop in average credit scores, with a decrease of 40 points (772 in 2008 compared with 732 in 2018). This group also had the most significant increase in credit card balances, up $767 in 2018 to $4,703 (compared with $3,936 in 2008). It also experienced the largest increase in mortgage debt, up $29,602 for a total of $160,735 in 2018 (compared with $131,133 in 2008).
  • Those aged 51 to 71 continue to have more credit cards (4.02 in 2008 compared with 3.48 in 2018) and retail cards (3.41 in 2008 compared with 2.85 in 2018) than any other age group. It has an average credit card balance of $7,637, compared with $8,127 in 2008. In addition, this group has the second-highest amount of nonmortgage debt of all groups (behind those aged 36 to 50) at $27,438, compared with $27,028 in 2008.
  • While those aged 51 to 71 have more credit cards and retail cards than any other age group, those aged 36 to 50 continue to have higher balances on credit cards ($8,897 in 2008 and $8,012 in 2018) and retail cards ($2,032 in 2008 and $2,192 in 2018). This group also has consistently carried higher nonmortgage debt ($30,179 in 2008 and $31,174 in 2018) and mortgage debt ($209,442 in 2008 and $239,009 in 2018) than other age groups.
  • Consumers aged 22 to 35 saw the second-largest jump in average credit scores since 2008, increasing 15 points to 644 from 629. This group has lowered its credit card balances ($5,583 in 2008 to $4,593 in 2018) while increasing its average mortgage debt ($192,554 in 2008 compared with $209,713 in 2018). Since 2008, those aged 18 to 21 increased their average balance on credit cards ($2,056 in 2008 compared with $2,259 in 2018) and saw a 23-point increase in credit scores — the largest of any other age group (616 in 2008 compared with 639 in 2018). This is considered a near-prime score, approaching the typical prime lending criterion of 661.

Credit behaviors of males and females

When looking at how the financial downturn impacted the credit card behaviors of males and females, Experian’s State of Credit report revealed:

10-year comparison Female Male U.S. average
2008 VantageScore 689 684 685

Number of credit cards 3.43 3.40 3.40
Average credit card debt $6,967 $7,331 $7,101
2017 VantageScore
680 675 675
Number of credit cards
3.15 3.01 3.06
Average credit card debt
$6,314 $6,581 $6,354
2018 VantageScore
684 680 680
Number of credit cards
3.13 2.98 3.04
Average credit card debt
$6,452 $6,752 $6,506

Year-over-year shifts

Today, the nation’s average credit score is 680 — five points higher than the 2017 average of 675. The average number of credit cards for consumers decreased slightly year-over-year to 3.04 (compared with 3.06 in 2017), while credit card balances increased $152 to $6,506.

“With this annual report, our goal is to provide insights that help consumers make more informed decisions about credit use to change their financial habits and improve financial access,” said Rod Griffin, director of consumer education and awareness at Experian. “Understanding the factors that influence their overall credit profile can help consumers lead financially empowered lives.”

Annual rankings

As part of the annual study, Experian also ranked states by their average credit score in 2018. Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are the top-ranking states in the nation, with prime credit scores of 703 or more. Mississippi, Louisiana, Nevada, Georgia and Texas are the five lowest-ranking states, with credit scores below 659.

Top five highest average credit scores by state

2018 highest rankings State 2018 average VantageScore
1 Minnesota 713
2 South Dakota 707
3 Vermont 705
4 New Hampshire 704
5 Massachusetts 703


Bottom five lowest average credit scores by state

2018 lowest rankings State 2018 average VantageScore
1 Mississippi 652
2 Louisiana 653
3 Nevada 659
4 Georgia 659
5 Texas 659

Analysis methodology

Experian’s analysis is based on a statistically relevant sampling of Experian’s consumer credit database, available on the Experian Ascend Technology PlatformTM, from Q2 2008, 2017 and 2018. Analyzed credit files did not contain personally identifiable information. Credit scores are based on Vantage Score (range 300–850).

About Experian

Experian is the world’s leading global information services company. During life’s big moments — from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers — we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals to take financial control and access financial services, businesses to make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders to lend more responsibly, and organizations to prevent identity fraud and crime.

We have 16,500 people operating across 39 countries, and every day we’re investing in new technologies, talented people and innovation to help all our clients maximize every opportunity. We are listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and are a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Learn more at or visit our global content hub at our global news blog for the latest news and insights from the group.

1VantageScore is a registered trademark of VantageScore Solutions, LLC.

 2VantageScore range is 300 to 850.

 3Average debt for this study includes all credit cards, auto loans and personal loans/student loans. 

Experian and the Experian marks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Experian and its affiliates. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

VantageScore 4.0 annual performance results are in

Extensive Testing in Accordance with Regulatory Guidance Highlights VantageScore 4.0’s Continued Ability to Provide Superior Predictive Accuracy and Consistency for Nearly All Eligible U.S. Consumers

Stamford, Conn, June, 2019 – VantageScore Solutions, the company behind the VantageScore credit scoring models, announced today that it has published its latest model performance assessment of VantageScore 4.0, the company’s most recently introduced consumer credit scoring model.

Data scientists at VantageScore Solutions examined the performance of VantageScore 4.0 in three specific areas:

  1. Predictiveness for both the mainstream consumer population (i.e., those who are conventionally scored by generic scoring models) and the approximately 40 million consumers who are considered “Newly Scored” (i.e., those who can be scored with VantageScore 4.0 but fail to meet the required by criteria conventional models).
  2. Consistency of VantageScore 4.0, based on the credit scores obtained from the three national credit reporting companies (CRCs) in terms of the variance between the scores and predictive performance.
  3. Statistical bias, if any, related to the ethnicity of various consumer groups.

The model performance assessment, conducted in 2019, represents the second annual assessment of VantageScore 4.0 (which had been launched in April 2017). The model is the first and only tri-bureau credit scoring model to incorporate trended credit data and leverage machine learning for superior predictive insights and inclusivity.

Highlights of the 2019 model performance assessment include:

  • Across ALL major consumer-lending categories (Bankcard, Mortgage, Auto, Installment) VantageScore 4.0 achieved a predictive performance lift over a best-in-class benchmark CRC proprietary credit scoring model for both originations and account management.
  • VantageScore 4.0 continues to significantly outperform VantageScore 3.0 in Bankcard, Auto, and Mortgage Originations.
  • There is no statistically significant difference in the default rates observed within each VantageScore 4.0 score band for Mainstream consumers as compared with the Newly Scored consumers (who often referred to as “credit invisibles” under conventional scoring models).
  • Among all models introduced by VantageScore, VantageScore 4.0 provides the most consistent credit scores across the three CRCs.
  • There is no statistical bias in VantageScore 4.0 based credit scores with respect to any protected ethnic groups. 


As part of its mission, VantageScore Solutions annually assesses all VantageScore models and shares the results publicly with market participants and regulators to promote transparency and support model governance activities.

The model performance assessment is based on a sample of 45 million anonymized and randomly selected U.S. consumer credit files obtained from the databases of each CRC (15 million files from each of the three CRCs), which were analyzed over a standard two-year timeframe (2016-2018) using standard statistical tests.


The VantageScore 4.0 model has implemented first-to-market innovations, such as the use of trended credit data, which captures the trajectory of borrower behaviors over time.

To measure the performance benefits provided by trended data, VantageScore 4.0’s prediction results were compared to those of previously developed credit scoring models that contain only static (point in time) credit attributes. Test results show an improvement in predictive performance as a result of the trended credit data, particularly in the higher credit score ranges where risk of default can be more difficult to identify and assess. As a result, users of VantageScore 4.0 will benefit by their ability to more finely tune credit offers to these higher scoring, lower risk consumers.


VantageScore 4.0 also is the first and only tri-bureau credit scoring model to leverage machine learning techniques in the development of scorecards for those who cannot be scored by conventional credit scoring models (i.e., the Newly Scored population segment).

Within this population of consumers, the performance assessment shows that VantageScore 4.0 outperforms VantageScore 3.0 in new account originations (7.4%) and existing accounts (2.3%).

Moreover, the assessment showed no statistically significant difference in the default rates observed within each VantageScore 4.0 score band for Mainstream consumers as compared to the Newly Scored consumers. This finding demonstrates that the VantageScore model, while adhering to safety and soundness principles, is still able to assign an accurate score to those who cannot get a credit score when conventional models are used.

“Despite the healthy economy, it is important to continually assess the performance of credit score models using a number of parameters to ensure safety and soundness, as well as fairness. While as a model developer, we seek to ensure the model is properly rank ordering, lenders should monitor for absolute risk,” said Barrett Burns, president & CEO of VantageScore Solutions. “Inevitably, the credit cycle will change and lenders must be diligent about performing frequent testing and validation of their existing models to guard against the potential that risk will increase and cause an unexpected uptick in defaults.”

While we always share the results of our models’ performance assessments publicly online, we encourage lenders to perform their own model assessments within their lending environment when considering whether to upgrade to new models. This year’s assessment can be found at 

About VantageScore Solutions

Credit scores can impact many aspects of your life, everything from whether you are able to get a loan and how much interest you will have to pay to whether you are able to rent an apartment. At VantageScore, we understand the impact credit scores have and we take it seriously.

VantageScore Solutions, LLC ( is the independently managed company that owns the intellectual property rights to the VantageScore credit scoring models and is the leader in scoring innovation. Recently introduced VantageScore models score approximately 40 million more consumers who typically are not scored by conventional models – without sacrificing predictiveness.

VantageScore credit scores are used by lenders, landlords, utility companies, telecom companies, and many others to determine creditworthiness. In fact, a recent study found that more than 10.5 billion VantageScore credit scores were used in June 2017-July 2018. Of those, approximately 6 billion scores were used by nearly 2,500 financial intuitions and over two billion VantageScore credit scores were provided directly to consumers through dozens of websites and lenders who provide their users and customers with their credit scores for free. By using the VantageScore model, these enterprises have access to many more consumers, and in turn, consumers have greater access to mainstream credit.

While there are many credit scoring models in the industry, the “win-win” for VantageScore is its innovative, highly predictive, patent-protected, tri-bureau scoring methodology that provides lenders and consumers with more consistent credit scores across all three national credit reporting companies.

5 Questions with Gary Acosta

Gary Acosta is co-founder and CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP®), the nation’s largest Hispanic“Feb2018”business organization with over 30,000 members and 100 local chapters. As always, VantageScore is thankful for his organization’s support and, specific to this feature, for his insights on the current economy and NAHREP’s latest research on the Hispanic-American population.

1) The recently released State of Hispanic Homeownership Report includes a new section of marketing outreach recommendations specifically tailored to the Hispanic consumer. Do you have a case study you can share? What are the top three takeaways from this year’s report?

Within the housing industry, companies disproportionately distribute their anticipated marketing spend on non-Hispanic audiences. Since Hispanics have been the primary source of home purchases, this creates a missed engagement opportunity. We suggest a needs-based segmentation strategy based on a given company’s strategic geographic focus. This means creating ads and a content strategy that meet the consumer where he or she is, sometimes in-language, sometimes in English, and sometimes bilingual, depending on what the consumer in that market prefers. The biggest takeaway is that a Spanish language strategy is not a Hispanic strategy. 

2) Have you seen any impact on Hispanic homeownership based on the Trump administration’s immigration and border patrol policies?

The construction industry is experiencing a critical labor shortage, as there are an insufficient number of skilled labor resources currently available in the U.S. Hispanics represent about 30% of construction workers and undocumented individuals represent nearly 30% of construction labor. At the same time, this past year Hispanics represented 95.7% of all deported individuals, with increased focus on interior removals of individuals, many of whom have been in the U.S. for several years. This focus on deportations rather than on immigration reform further widens the labor gap in an industry already suffering labor shortages. While there are other impacts on the housing industry overall, this one example illustrates the fact that fixing our broken immigration system is a housing issue, not a partisan issue, and requires a reasonable solution. 

3) The 2019 State of Hispanic Wealth Report also was recently released and found growth in Latino income. Yet we still see barriers to entry in homeownership for Latinos. What are some obstacles this population must face and how can they overcome them?

Hispanic consumers are more likely than non-Hispanics to rely on cash for payment of goods and services, which has an impact on their ability to build a credit profile. This is one of the reasons why alternative credit scoring models that capture things like cell phone and rent payments help to create a more realistic picture of a consumer’s credit risk. This is especially true for Hispanics based on their credit usage patterns. Industry changes that more readily enable usage of alternative credit scoring models will have a positive impact on credit qualifying for otherwise credit-worthy borrowers. 

4) There’s a lot of change (all great things!) happening at NAHREP these days – from the appointment of Sara Rodriguez as president-elect to your new logo. Can you tell us the motivation behind the new narrative you are wanting to communicate to your constituents?

Sara is a powerhouse and will be a great ambassador for our organization. Latinos are the driving force behind the New Mainstream Economy and are the economic engine that is fueling America. Whether by driving U.S., homeownership gains, or as entrepreneurs driving small business starts, Latinos are critical to the economic success of the U.S. and NAHREP is focused on ensuring its members are well-positioned as leaders in this important cohort. We felt it was time to change our logo in a manner that reflects the broad role Hispanics are playing in our nation’s economy.

5) Most indicators suggest that credit has loosened recently. Are Hispanic consumers finding housing finance more accessible? If not, where else should policy makers be focusing on?

The data is hard to interpret at this point because inventory has been so tight; there are still more qualified Hispanics than available homes for sale. This will change as the market slows. However, Hispanics continue to be more likely than non-Hispanics to be denied for mortgage loans and are also more likely to use FHA-guaranteed loans than non-Hispanics. We are engaged with policy makers to ensure Hispanics and other first-time buyers continue to have access to affordable housing finance, such as by maintaining the QM Patch. These things are of critical importance in ensuring prospective homeowners realize their dream. 

NAHREP is the nation’s largest Hispanic business organization with over 30,000 members and 75 local chapters. In his capacity as CEO of NAHREP, Gary Acosta created the Hispanic Wealth Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a strategic plan to triple Hispanic household wealth by 2024. In 2018, He co-founded L’ATTITUDE, a mega event that celebrates the achievements of the Latino community in business, entertainment, technology, and politics.

Mr. Acosta has also founded or co-founded several mortgage, real estate and technology companies including New Vista Asset Management, CounselorMax, and In 2013 he co-founded The Mortgage Collaborative, a cooperative of mortgage companies that work together to increase profitability and market share.

Mr. Acosta is a former appointee of the consumer advisory board (CAB) of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal agency responsible for regulating consumer protection in the financial services industry. He served as 2014 chairman of the CAB mortgage committee.

In 2012, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America awarded him with its prestigious “Investing in Communities” annual award. REALTOR® Magazine named him one of the 25 Most Influential People in Real Estate, and Hispanic Business Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America.

He is a current member of the board of trustees for the Home Builders Institute and is a former member of the board of directors of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. He has also served on advisory boards for several Fortune 500 companies including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mr. Acosta grew up in Montebello, California, and received his education from Pomona College and the University of California at San Diego. He lives with his family in San Diego, California.

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