Do you know the difference between your credit report and your credit score? If not, you’re not alone. It can be easy to see these two related items as one and the same. However, if you take a closer look, you may start to see differences in how they impact your financial health. Here are some answers to a few common questions you might have:
What’s a credit report?
A credit report is a transcript of all the credit-related decisions – both good and bad – you’ve made throughout your life. It includes information about your existing credit agreements, such as credit card accounts, mortgages, and student loans, and lists inquiries about your credit history. It can also include non-credit information, such as utility payments. It also outlines how much you owe creditors, how long each account has been open, and how consistently you make on-time payments. Credit reports may also list related public records, such as court judgments against you, tax liens on your property, or bankruptcy filings.
What’s a credit score?
A credit score is like a grade that’s given to your credit report. This three-digit number ranges from 300 to 850. However, three different credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion – provide the information to make up that score. So, when you request your credit score, you will actually receive three numbers in return. If 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. A high credit score can indicate lower risk to the lender and more likely to qualify for a loan.
How can I access my credit report and credit score?
Viewing your own credit report will let you know what lenders will see and who has recently requested a copy. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers access to one free credit report annually from each of these three reporting agencies, which is available through AnnualCreditReport.com. To access your credit score, you can contact the credit reporting agencies. There are also credit monitoring services available for a fee that can provide this information for you.
By understanding your credit report and credit score – and checking them regularly – you can make informed choices that will impact your financial future.