There’s a lot of chatter about the credit bureaus, how they work, what they do, and how the information they maintain impacts consumers.
Though there are several credit reporting agencies, the three major credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Each houses data that could play a significant part in a creditor or lender’s decision to approve you for a credit card or loan. Credit data could also determine if you’re approved or denied for your dream job or housing, what your insurance premiums will be or how much you will have to pay to connect utilities.
Although Experian is the largest credit bureau in the United States, it’s not the only one you should be concerned with. Your financial data housed with TransUnion and Equifax is equally important.
Experian Free Credit Score
What are Credit Bureaus?
Credit bureaus are entities that house consumer financial data. They compile this data to generate credit reports used by lenders and creditors to make lending decisions.
As a consumer, you can get a copy of your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com from the three major bureaus every week (through April 20, 2022), as mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). However, creditors and lenders who wish to view credit profiles to screen applicants must purchase copies from the credit reporting agencies.
What Data Do Credit Bureaus Include in Your Credit Report?
Credit bureaus include the following data in your credit report:
- Personal information, including your name, address, phone numbers and social security number.
- Account information from data furnishers, including the current balance, account status, and payment history (or if the bill was paid on time). This data is provided to the credit bureaus monthly.
- Bankruptcy filings.
Credit card and loan information typically remain in the credit bureaus databases for seven years. Bankruptcies stay for up to ten years.
Where Do Credit Bureaus Get Data?
The financial data found in credit reports is provided by companies with whom consumers do business. Also referred to as data furnishers, they include banks, credit unions, lenders, credit card issuers, loan servicers, and collections agencies.
Public records are not provided to the credit bureaus. Instead, the credit bureaus access court records to view this information and include it in consumer credit files.
Experian Free Credit Score
What Are The Largest Three Credit Bureaus?
The three largest credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
Dubbed as a leader in global information services, Experian provides solutions to both consumers, like The CreditWorksSM, and businesses. You can view your credit reports and scores, enroll in identity theft protection services, explore potential credit card and loan offers and view educational resources directly from their online platform.
Equifax is headquartered in Atlanta and also offers products and services to consumers and businesses. Consumers can take advantage of their free offerings by visiting the Consumer Services Center to get a copy of their Equifax credit report and score, submit a dispute, opt-out of pre-screened offers, enroll in credit monitoring, and more.
TransUnion refers to itself as a global information and insights company that serves consumers with both free and paid services. You can get your credit report, file disputes, and place fraud alerts directly on the website. Credit monitoring, protection, and the credit score simulator are tools available for a fee.
Experian vs. Equifax vs. TransUnion: How They Compare
Experian and TransUnion offer credit scores and reports, credit monitoring, educational resources, credit support services, and identity theft protection to consumers.
Experian also features small business credit solutions and a free tool to help you improve your credit score instantly and free of charge. The latter is called Experian Boost and gives you credit for payments you already make for utility, phone, and streaming services.
What Credit Bureau is Most Used by Lenders?
The credit bureau used by a lender will depend on each lender. Some use credit reports from all three credit bureaus, and others only view one or two reports.
Also, each credit bureau houses its own data, so the information you find on one report may differ from the others. And some lenders and creditors don’t report to all three credit bureaus, which could also lead to variances in your credit reports.
Get your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, and ensure the information is accurate. If not, file disputes promptly to ensure the credit scores lenders and creditors see are based on accurate data.
Also, be mindful that there are several variations of the FICO Score. Instead of focusing solely on the credit bureau the lender uses, inquire about the version of FICO Score they consider to get a better idea of your approval odds for a loan or credit card product.
Here’s a breakdown of base and industry-specific scores by credit bureau:
- FICO® Score 2: used by Experian for mortgage lending
- FICO® Score 3: used by Experian for credit card decisioning
- FICO® Score 4: used by TransUnion for mortgage lending
- FICO® Score 5: used by Equifax for mortgage lending
- FICO® Score 8: most widely used versions by Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax
- FICO® Score 9: the other most commonly used version by Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax
- FICO® Auto Score 2: used by Experian for auto lending
- FICO® Auto Score 4: used by TransUnion for auto lending
- FICO® Auto Score 5: used by Equifax for auto lending
- FICO® Auto Score 8: used by Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax for auto lending
- FICO® Auto Score 9: used by Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax for auto lending
- FICO® Bankcard Score 2: used by Experian for credit card decisioning
- FICO® Bankcard Score 4: used by TransUnion for credit card decisioning
- FICO® Bankcard Score 5: used by Equifax for credit card decisioning
- FICO® Bankcard Score 8: used by Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax for credit card decisioning
- FICO® Bankcard Score 9: used by Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax for credit card decisioning
The FICO® Score 10, FICO® Auto Score 10, FICO® Bankcard Score 10, and FICO® Score 10T are all new additions to the FICO scoring-model portfolios. Lenders have been slow to adopt these credit score versions, though, and they aren’t heavily used in most instances.
The Bottom Line
Experian is the largest credit bureau in the United States. Still, it’s not the only entity that houses consumer financial data. Equifax and TransUnion are the other major credit reporting agencies lenders, and creditors turn to for credit reports and scores used to make lending decisions. So, you want to ensure the information in your credit profile across the three credit bureaus is accurate.