A tradeline is an account listed on a credit report along with some basic information about the account. You can have tradelines for both revolving credit accounts (such as credit cards and lines of credit) and installment accounts (including personal loans, car loans, mortgages, and student loans).
Your tradelines (including their status, activity, balance, etc.) are used as the basis for calculating your credit score. Creditors can also check your tradelines for more information about your accounts that may not be obvious from a credit score alone.
Open tradelines will stay on your credit report indefinitely. Closed tradelines will remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years, depending on whether the account was closed in good standing.
Information included with tradelines on credit reports:
- Account type (e.g. flexible spending credit card, no preset spending limit credit card, installment loan, etc.)
- Abbreviated account number
- Account status (e.g. open/never late, paid as agreed, 30 days past due, etc.)
- Account responsibility (e.g. individual or authorized user)
- Name and address of creditor
- Date account was opened
- Date account was closed (if applicable)
- Date last reported
- Statement balance / highest balance
- Credit limit
- Monthly payment amount (if fixed)
- Payment history
If you are an authorized user on an account, you will also see that tradeline reflected on your credit report. However, it’s important to note the difference between a traditional authorized user and one who bought access to a tradeline.
Some people who want to improve their credit pay a fee in order to have a tradeline added to their credit report, usually without card access. This practice, which amounts to becoming an authorized user on a stranger’s credit card account, is often viewed as unethical (it can even be considered bank fraud) and will not help you develop good financial habits, so it should be avoided. If you cannot be added as a traditional authorized user to one of your friend’s or family member’s accounts, you are better off looking at other ways to improve your credit score.
You can check the tradelines on your TransUnion credit report for free through your WalletHub account.