Great question! For starters, credit reports don’t grow on trees, and we believe that most consumers are better off focusing on a single free report than paying for all three. After all, 66% of people haven’t checked even one credit report in the past 12 months, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Most importantly, however, credit reports simply don’t differ all that much from bureau to bureau. All credit bureaus get their data from so-called data furnishers, which includes lenders, collection agencies and public-record providers. The 50 largest data furnishers provide roughly 72% of the credit bureaus’ information, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and “most of the largest furnishers report all or nearly all of their trade lines to each of the largest” bureaus. So there is significant overlap between the contents of each of your major credit reports.
If you’re still not convinced that one credit report is enough for most people to focus on, consider the relationship between credit reports and credit scores. We all know that a credit score is based on the contents of a given bureau’s credit report. But CFPB research into a range of different credit-score models based on information from the three major bureaus shows that, “for a majority of consumers the scores produced by different scoring models provided similar information about the relative creditworthiness of the consumers.” Furthermore, “correlations across the results of scoring models were high, generally over .90.” This proves that the underlying credit data is largely the same from bureau to bureau because truly distinct information would have produced wildly different scores – especially since the CFPB was testing a variety of different scoring models.
So, to sum things up, all three of your credit reports are important, but for most people the differences between them aren’t worth trying to juggle all three. That’s why we recommend using WalletHub as your everyday source of credit intelligence, while supplementing its award-winning services by ordering your Experian and Equifax reports once every year through AnnualCreditReport.com.
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