Many people often talk about credit reports and credit scores as if they are the same thing. They’re not.
Your credit report contains a history of how you’ve used credit. It includes your payment history, open credit accounts, and the amount of debt you have. In contrast, your credit score (sometimes referred to as your FICO score) is a number typically ranging between 300 and 850. Your credit score represents your creditworthiness.
Your credit report provides detailed information about you and your credit history. Credit reports contain four categories of information:
- Identifying Information: Personal identifying information includes your name, social security number, date of birth, current and former employers, and current and former addresses. This information is used to identify you. It is not used to assess your creditworthiness or to determine your credit score.
- Credit Accounts: Information on accounts you have with lenders, such as a mortgage, school loans, car loans, and credit cards. Your credit report includes how long each account has been opened, whether any accounts are past due, your payment history, and the amount owed.
- Credit Inquiries: When you apply for a loan, the lender will pull a copy of your credit report. The credit bureaus keep track each time your report is pulled. Each time a lender requests your report, an “inquiry” appears in your report. Inquires over the last two years are reflected in your report. The report lists both “voluntary” inquiries, which result when you request your report, and “involuntary” inquires, which results when lenders get your report to make a pre-approved credit offer to you.
- Public Record and Collection Items: Any court judgments, tax liens, or bankruptcy filings will also appear on your credit report.
Everyone is allowed one credit report each year from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can request your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. But keep in mind that your credit score is NOT included in your free report.
Your credit score is a three-digit number that denotes a statistical analysis of your creditworthiness. Your credit score is calculated based on the information from your credit report such as amounts owed, payment history, new credit, and types of credit used. Using this score, lenders determine the likeliness of timely payments or the chance that you will default on a loan. They will also use it to determine what interest rate they offer you on a car loan, credit card, mortgage, or other loan. A credit score of 720 or higher is considered good credit score.
You can get your credit scores from all three credit bureaus for free from GoFreeCredit.