Just as there are several companies and agencies capable of generating your credit report, there are many sources that offer credit scoring services. The September issue of Consumer Reports describes how The Consumer Reports Money Lab spent $130 to determine how the scores may vary, and the results proved the point that scores from different sources can seem like they belong to different people! See the details of their experiment and what it all means to you when you read more.
Their experiment returned 11 scores with a 72-point range, meaning the scores were rated from fair to good to excellent. To get a general idea of your credit score, purchase your score for $15.95 from the FICO website, but remember that score isn't necessarily the figure lenders will use when determining a borrower's creditworthiness. They will often purchase other Fair Issac scores specific to their industry, for example, if you're applying for a car loan the lender may look at your Industry Option FICO score.
While the FICO score will give you an estimation of your creditworthiness, Consumer Reports recommends practicing good financial habits, as a way to ensure whatever score is used will be high. They suggest getting your credit reports from all three bureaus six months before applying for credit, paying bills on time and keeping balances low.