Your finances should always be taken seriously and this is why knowing the difference between the credit report and the credit score is very important. If this is the first time you are looking into this, do not feel bad because many people mistake one for the other or could not really tell you which is which. But there is always a good moment to learn something.
The credit report is a compilation of information about your financial history and behavior. The information is put together by three US credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, and it consists of personal identification information as well as credit information such as what type of credit you use, what your bill paying habits are, how deep in debt you usually are, lines of credit you have opened and how well you manage to pay them back.
People usually have one free credit report made available to them once every 12 months and it is always a good idea to check it out because the information between the agencies may not always be cross checked and mistakes may occur, even though they are highly unlikely.
The credit score is a three digit number calculated according to a mathematical algorithm, which decides just how well you qualify for another loan. It can be anywhere between 300 and 800, with 400 being very low and anything over 700 being very good. Although it is calculated by FICO, the VantageScore and banks can have their own calculation algorithms.
Among the people who will be interested in taking a look at your credit score are mortgage lenders, car lenders, credit card issuers, insurers and collection agents, landlords and any other institution or person you might ever be interested in associating with on a financial basis.
Credit report vs Credit score
So what is the difference between a credit report and a credit score?
The credit report is solid documentation of how you view and deal with your finances. The credit score is calculated based on the information in this report. However, the report does not automatically contain the credit score. Apart from FICO, banks can choose to calculate a credit score based on their own algorithm. While the credit report is a document that can stand very well all by itself, the credit score cannot be issued without the report and is dependent on it in every way.
You can check your report and score for free in certain situations: once a year for the report and every time you deal with a lender, as they are obliged to show you the score they get enclosed with their documents. The market is full of free report and score generators, but they are not official tools and can only offer an estimate.
|Credit report||Credit score|
|A solid documentation of financial habits||The result of the report in a numerical form|
|Drafted by the credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion||Calculated by FICO, although VantageScore and banks can have their own calculation algorithms|
|You can consult it for free once a year||You can consult it for free every time a lender asks for it|
|Is a stand-alone document with great informative value||Should always be accompanied by the credit report|