Confused man with credit report and credit score

Credit reports vs. credit scores: what’s the difference?

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Credit reports are not the same as credit scores, but do you know how?

What's a credit report?

A credit report is just that: a report. Each report lists credit-related information for a particular individual that has been reported to the particular credit bureau producing that report, at the particular time it has been requested. There are 3 major credit bureaus – TransUnion®, Equifax & Experian – so a typical credit-active person will have a separate report produced by each of those companies.

What's in a credit report?

There are laws and regulations as to what a credit report may list and what it cannot list. Listed items are broken up into categories: personal information, open and closed accounts, credit inquiries, public records and others.

Each item that's listed on your report, under those categories, is just one part of your overall credit picture. But together, they tell a story of the way you use your money. They also tell lenders whether your information tells the story of a consumer they want to extend credit to.

What's a credit score?

It's important to know that credit scores are completely different than credit reports. Usually a 3-digit number that falls on a scale from bad to good (typically, but not always, ranging from 300-850) a credit score is calculated based on information listed in a particular credit report or reports. There are several different kinds of credit scores, produced by different companies, for different purposes, based on different reports, using different formulas... you get the idea.

You may have several different credit scores, but they're all trying to do one thing: provide an informed opinion and quick snapshot on how good your credit is.

Why are credit scores important?

Credit scores are important because loan approvals, interest rates offered and other credit-related decisions may end up coming down to those three credit score digits. Credit scores may be used by potential lenders to quickly, fairly, and consistently consider all the information listed in an applicant's credit report or reports.

What's the takeaway?

Credit reports and scores can be useful, but they're just information and tools. Don't worry too much about the difference between scores and reports. Instead, focus on having good credit habits – not borrowing more than you can afford, paying your bills on time, etc. – and pay attention to your credit reports and scores.





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