Credit Report vs. Credit Score: Differences Tips & More
The terms “credit report” and “credit score” are often mentioned together, and for good reason. But they’re not quite the same thing. A credit report is a summary of your track record as a borrower. It lists the loans and lines of credit that you’ve used, any collections accounts or tax liens in your name, personally identifying information, and other key info. A credit score is basically a credit report’s contents expressed as a number. In other words, it’s shorthand for what your credit history says about how risky it would be lend money to you.
Both credit reports and scores are available to consumers for free. But not free credit websites aren’t all the same, either. WalletHub, for example, is the only site that offers free credit scores and reports that are updated on a daily basis.Check Your Latest Credit Report & Score – 100% Free
You can learn a lot about the differences between credit reports and scores just by examining your own. But we’ll get you started by comparing them and offering some advice on how to improve both, below.
Credit Reports vs. Credit Scores – Key Differences
|Type||Credit Report||Credit Score|
|Description||Detailed summary of your borrowing history||Grade for your credit history, indicating your risk as a borrower|
|Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO)
|What It Consists Of||Personal information
Sometimes listed with corresponding rating (bad, good, etc.)
|Available For Free?||Yes||Yes|
Credit Bureaus vs. Credit Scoring Companies
Credit bureaus are the companies that produce credit reports. The three main credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Credit bureaus are not, however, responsible for creating credit scores. Specialized companies – most notably, FICO and VantageScore – do that. Interestingly, though, VantageScore is an independent company that was started by the big three credit bureaus.
The fact that there are three major credit bureaus and two major credit-scoring companies also means there isn’t one single credit score. That’s a common myth, but there are actually hundreds of credit scoring models in use. The most common credit scores do all use the same 300-850 range, though.
Improving Your Credit Reports & Scores
All credit scores are based on the contents of our major credit reports. So if you improve your credit report, your score will also rise. And there are two ways to do that. For starters, you can dispute any errors that you find on your reports, so you aren’t penalized by mistake. More importantly, you can add positive information to your reports, to either build credit history from scratch or offset mistakes from your past. Using a credit card responsibly is the best way to add that positive info. You just have to pay your bills on time, if you even decide to make purchases with the card.
Finally, signing up for a free WalletHub would be a good move for both your credit report and score. WalletHub is the only site that gives you free credit scores and reports that are updated on a daily basis. You’ll also benefit from personalized credit improvement advice. This will tell you not only how to improve your credit, but also how long it will take.
For more tips, you can also check out WalletHub’s in-depth credit improvement guide.
Image: Alena Dubinets/Shutterstock
Was this article helpful?