What do reason codes mean?

Have you received a notice with your credit score and wondered what those alphanumeric codes on the notice mean? Those are reason codes, and they usually correspond with a reason code description. Here are a few examples:

  • 32:
    Balances on bankcard or revolving accounts too high compared to credit limits
  • 16:
    The total of all balances on your open accounts is too high
  • 85:
    You have too many inquiries on your credit report
  • 13:
    Your most recently opened account is too new

When one of the national credit reporting companies (CRCs) — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion — provides a credit score, four or five of these codes are usually generated and provided to you. Reason codes are also found on a variety of legally required disclosure notices issued by lenders when they check your credit as part of a loan application.

Credit scores help lenders and other organizations decide whether to extend credit to you and at what terms. The VantageScore models calculate your credit score by applying a mathematical formula to the information contained in your credit files at the three national CRCs. A high score may mean you have easier access to the credit you seek, possibly at lower rates. If you have a credit score lower than you’d like, the best way to go about improving it is to focus on managing your credit better.

The reason codes can be a guide. Use the tools available here to look up the reason codes that accompany your VantageScore credit score. By addressing the item in each reason code, you may be able to improve your credit score over time.

What can reason codes tell you?

Reason codes tell you the main reasons why you did not receive a perfect score from the particular credit score model that was used to generate your score. Because each credit score model uses its own formula to calculate your score, the reasons why you didn’t get a perfect score will vary from model to model. This site provides reason codes for the three VantageScore models used by lenders.

Because reason codes are required by law, even people with really high scores will receive up to the top four or five reasons why their scores are not perfect.

The reason codes you receive are always listed in order of magnitude about why your credit score was not the highest score on the scale used by the credit scoring model. So the first code given is the reason why you lost the most points, the second code is the reason you lost additional points but fewer points than the first reason, and so on.


Frequently Asked Questions About Reason Codes