Frequently Asked Credit Questions


Question: What is a Credit Report?

Answer: Your credit report is a record of your credit activity and history. It includes the names of companies that have extended you credit and/or loans, as well as the credit limits, loan amounts and your payment history. You can think of it as your financial resume; it tells the story of your financial health to potential lenders.

Question: What should I look for in my credit report?

Answer: Check out our interactive tool that explains how to read your credit report. If you believe any of the details in your credit report are inaccurate, you can start a dispute online.

Question: How can I get my free credit report?

Answer: The FACT Act makes every consumer eligible for one free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit reporting agencies every 12 months. Also, you are eligible to get free weekly credit reports from all three national credit reporting agencies. Get your free report at

Reviewing your credit reports regularly helps you ensure the information reported is accurate and gives you an opportunity to monitor your account history to combat potential identity theft.

Question: What's the difference between a credit report and a credit score?

Answer: A credit report shows a listing of your credit history. A credit score represents what's in the credit report, shown by a number typically between 300 and 850. There are many different types of credit scores, and it's normal to have more than one. Lenders and credit reporting agencies use varying scoring models to calculate credit scores, and the score you view may not be the score used by a particular lender. TransUnion uses the VantageScore® 3.0 credit score. Get more information about VantageScore.

Question: Will checking my credit report hurt my credit score?

Answer: Checking your own credit report won't hurt your score because it's considered a soft inquiry. A soft inquiry is a more routine check that does not affect your credit score and is generally only seen by you. Learn more about the difference between soft and hard inquiries.

Question: How is my credit score calculated?

Answer: A credit score is calculated using the information in your credit report, so a credit score can change as often as the information in your report changes. There are many different types of credit scores, and it's normal to have more than one. Scores can vary depending on what type of credit you're applying for or on what day the score is calculated. TransUnion uses the VantageScore® 3.0 credit score. Get more information about VantageScore.

Generally, scoring models use credit report information that falls under six main categories to calculate a credit score:

  1. Payment history. This shows your level of responsibility as a borrower – have you been making payments on time?
  2. Amount of credit owed. Add up all your credit balances and you get this number, which gives an indication of how much you're borrowing.
  3. Credit utilization. How much of your available credit are you using? Are you close to maxing it out?
  4. Length of time you've been using credit. How established is your credit? Do you have a lot of experience using credit?
  5. New credit. It factors in new accounts and credit inquiries (authorized requests for your report from lenders).
  6. Credit mix. Do you have experience managing different types of credit?

Question: What impacts my credit score the most?

Answer: Payment history is the most important factor in calculating your credit scores because it shows how you've managed your finances, including whether you've made any late payments. Your credit history is also very important as it demonstrates how long you've been managing your accounts, when your last payments were made and any recent charges.

Question: How long does negative information stay on my credit report?

Answer: Typically, the negative information on your credit report falls off 7 years after the date of first account delinquency. Bankruptcy information remains on your report for up to 10 years from the date filed, but it can be less depending on the type of bankruptcy.

Positive information remains on your report for up to 10 years from the date of last activity on the account. This information applies to installment accounts like mortgages and car loans, which are the types of agreements that have fixed terms on the number of years for repayment. For revolving accounts, such as credit cards, your positive history will stay on your report for as long as the account is active.

Question: How do I dispute information on my credit report?

Answer: If you believe something on your credit report is inaccurate, you may want to contact the lender or company that reported the information to give you more details. You can also start a dispute with the credit reporting agency that issued the report. The fastest and easiest way to start a dispute with TransUnion is to dispute online.

Take the next step toward financial health

What You Need to Know:

The credit scores provided are based on the VantageScore® 3.0 model. Lenders use a variety of credit scores and are likely to use a credit score different from VantageScore® 3.0 to assess your creditworthiness.

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