Your credit history is the most important thing lenders look at when deciding whether or not to give you money. This history is reflected in your credit report and your credit score. Both are important indicators of your credit worthiness, but which one matters the most if you’re trying to obtain credit?
When you hear people refer to your credit report, it’s a good idea to ask, “Which one?” There are actually three different major credit reporting agencies—TransUnion, Experian, and Expedia—and each one provides its own report.
Each credit report is a record of your borrowing and repayment history. Your mortgage, credit cards, car payment, student loans, and other accounts can be found on your credit report, as well as whether or not you pay them back on time.
Other accounts are commonly reported to the credit agencies as well. If you have a lien against your property, a court judgment against you, or an account that has gone to a collection agency, these will show up on your credit history as well.
Not all creditors report to all three credit reporting agencies, so it’s not uncommon to see certain accounts on one credit report that are missing from one or both of the other reports. That’s why it’s important to pull all three reports when you check your credit history.
Like the credit report, there are actually multiple credit scores. Each of the three credit reporting agencies calculates its own credit score and uses a different scoring range:
The credit scores lenders most often look at, however, is the FICO score. Usually, when referring to a “credit score,” this is the score they mean. The FICO score has a range of 300 to 850. Although the exact algorithm they use to calculate scores is confidential, FICO scoring is broken down into the following:
Any time you do something negative to your credit, like make a late payment or max out your accounts, your credit score will take a ding. Oftentimes, these negative reports stay on your report for years. A bankruptcy or foreclosure, for example, will stay on your report for seven years. Late payments also stay on your credit reports for seven years, but the impact they have on your score lessens over time.
You have credit reports and credit scores, so which one is more important for you to track? While they are both important indicators of your financial history and credit worthiness, pay more attention to your credit report than your credit score. Here’s why:
If you’re curious about your credit report, federal law allows you to obtain free copies of each of your credit report and scores for free here www.annualcreditreport.com