If you’ve thought about ordering your free credit report, which credit reporting bureau should you contact? Many people wonder what the difference is between the Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports. Each credit reporting agency uses a different set of criteria and variables to calculate your credit score, and some lenders prefer to use one over the other. If you were to order a credit report from each credit bureau, you might find that your credit score varies by as much as 40 points between them. The three credit bureaus did develop the VantageScore In 2006 to eliminate this problem, but many lenders still use the FICO score five-factor formula.
Here’s a brief summary of the key elements of your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports, and what makes each one unique:
Key Elements of Your Equifax Report
- Uses the Equifax Credit Score calculation, a proprietary model used by Equifax
- Equifax Score ranges from 280 to 850 where higher scores indicate lower risk
- Is calculated slightly differently than the standard FICO Score
- Equifax calls the FICO score the BEACON® Score
Key Elements of Your Experian Credit Report
- Uses the PLUS Score credit scoring system
- Experian Score ranges from 330 to 830 where higher scores indicate lower risk
- Part of Experian’s National Score Index used to calculate consumer financial statistics around the country
- The FICO score is often called the Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model
Key Elements of Your TransUnion Credit Report
- Uses the standard FICO scoring system, also called EMPIRICA®
- Calculated based on several elements, including your payment rack record, credit history, types of credit used and total amount owed
- FICO score range is from 300 to 850
Understanding Your Credit Scores
If you are about to make a major purchase and know you will be applying for a loan or a credit card with a high credit line, you can check your credit score from all three credit reporting agencies a few months before your purchase. These three scores can give you an accurate view of your credit standing, and you will have time to make requests for changes if you notice mistakes or errors. Most people who have a credit score above 700 across all three scoring systems are pre-qualified for big loans.
Just keep in mind that most lenders take more than just your credit score into account when making their credit decisions. Each lender uses a different method to determine your creditworthiness, so a high credit score alone – regardless of which scoring system is used – doesn’t guarantee that you will receive the loan or line of credit.