Do you know the difference between your credit report and your credit score? It may be easy to see these two related items as one and the same. However, if you take a closer look, you may start to understand some key differences between the two.

What’s a credit report?

A credit report includes information about your past and existing credit agreements, such as credit card accounts, mortgages, and student loans, and lists inquiries about your credit history. It outlines how much you owe creditors, how long each account has been open, and how consistently you make on-time payments. Credit reports also list related public records, such as collections or bankruptcy filings.

How do I access my credit report?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers access to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, through AnnualCreditReport.com. By viewing your credit reports, you will be able to know what lenders will see when you apply for a loan. The free annual credit report will not contain your credit score.

 Tip 

During the time of COVID-19, accessing your credit is important. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are now offering free weekly online report access via AnnualCreditReport.com through April 2021.

What’s a credit score?

A credit score is like a grade that’s given to your credit report. This three-digit number typically ranges from 300 to 850, specifically those based on the standard FICO® Score. There are three credit reporting agencies –Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion® – each of which assigns you a credit score. When you request your credit score, you will actually receive three numbers in return, and since the numbers will be coming from different reporting agencies, they may all be different. If you request your free annual credit report, it will not automatically include a credit score. Each reporting agency will charge a fee to show your credit score. If, once you have your credit score from all three agencies, any of those numbers are drastically different than the others, you may want to look closely at your credit report to see if there are any errors which you can dispute. A high credit score can indicate lower risk to the lender and customers with a high credit score may be more likely to qualify for a loan.

How can I access my credit score?

To access your credit score for a fee, you can contact the credit reporting agencies. There are also websites that offer a free Vantage Score. A Vantage Score is not the same as a FICO® Credit Score, and there are differences in how they are calculated. Some banks and credit card companies also provide credit scores to their eligible customers. Wells Fargo now provides access to FICO® Credit Scores to eligible customers through Wells Fargo Online. When comparing scores, be sure to understand what kind of credit score you are looking at (FICO® Score vs Vantage Score), what score version it is, and when it was last updated. For more information, view: understanding the difference between credit scores.

By understanding your credit report and credit score – and checking them regularly for accuracy – you can make informed choices that will impact your financial future.

Q:
Which of these companies does not provide a free annual consumer credit report?

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