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.
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
|Three-digit number representing the contents of your credit report
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 ”big three” major 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 singular 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. Two major ways to do that include disputing any errors on your reports, as well as adding positive information through actions like on-time payments and low credit utilization.
Finally, signing up for a free WalletHub would be a good move for both your credit report and score. WalletHub 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.