How to Be Inclusive…AND Transparent

May 27, 2022

Data innovation is rapidly democratizing access to credit and helping millions of consumers once marginalized by conventional systems get access to mainstream financial services. 

But does that access come with a cost in the form of decision making that can’t be plainly explained to borrowers? It does not have to. 

Driving Financial Inclusion Across the Industry 

Firstly, VantageScore does not make approve or decline decisions for loans.  Instead, we calculate a simple 3-digit score that is one of the most predictive, inclusive and widely used scores for over 2,200 banks and fin-techs and 9 of the top 10 banks. VantageScore is known for enabling greater financial inclusion for consumers that have been traditionally underserved. 

Transparency in Plain English 

Whenever consumers get turned down for credit or don’t get the best terms, lenders are often required to provide applicants with adverse action notices that include a few statements about their credit score if the credit score was a factor in the decision. 

These are called “reason codes.” Reason codes were historically brief and written with lots of industry jargon and frankly, these statements were not all that informative. The purpose of reason codes is extremely important, which is for consumers to be able to understand why they have received the score and what actions they can take to improve their score. 

Recognizing this, VantageScore has been the industry leader in transparency and among the first industry participants to publish “plain English” and Spanish language translated reason codes. Taking steps further, we provide deeper explanations of the reason codes which includes helpful consumer tips on how to improve one’s credit score. 

Digital and Interactive Delivery 

To make it easily accessible, VantageScore has been a key leader in consumer education as well. VantageScore credit scores were the first commercially available scores (i.e. used by lenders for credit decisions) to be provided for free to consumers.  

We then provided our reason code explanations through a website,, to both to lenders and consumers. By simply typing in the first few words of a reason code, the free website helps consumers understand what the reason code language means and empowers consumers to make good decisions to improve credit habits. 

Balancing Innovation with Explainability 

Despite massive breakthroughs in technology, data, and modeling innovation, it’s important to balance predictive power with transparency and explainability. That’s why our progress towards greater inclusion paralleled our increased transparency.  

To learn more about reason codes and to access VantageScore’s reason code database, visit and its Spanish companion site