Three major credit bureaus and their scoring systems

credit bureau sign on red background

Your financial well-being is determined by your credit report and your credit score, but do you know who the companies are that collect your information to provide you with your credit reports and credit scores.

Your credit information is housed within three large companies that contain huge databases of credit information, known as credit bureaus or credit reporting agencies. They are the ones that will provide your credit report and score to any creditor requesting your credit information based on your application for credit or a lease, such a landlord or a mortgage lender.

There are several credit reporting agencies in existence, but the main three at the national level are your biggest providers: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

The others are consider small and local, usually found in one community or industry. The banking industry is very similar in that they have small banks for small areas and large chains that serve the nation.

The Differences Between the Big Three

Despite similar functions and operations, the three bureaus remain separate, and your reports can vary based on each system’s reporting systems and scores. These differences can include:

  • Inquiries made by an application will only be generated to your report for the bureau that the creditor reports this inquiry while not appearing on all three.
  • Your balances can differ based on when your creditors report these balances to the credit bureaus depending on the time of the month.
  • You can find differences when bureaus track monthly versus daily.
  • On a rare occasion, negative items or an account can appear on just one report from any of the three bureaus.

Differing Scores Based on Their Systems

You may have three different credit scores. While you may have a 745 with one company, you could have a 735 and 740 with the other two.

Each bureau uses a different model for determining their scores based on the information they have for you. While the differences can be small like those above, you’ll want to watch for larger variations because there may be a discrepancy on your report with that bureau, such as a mistype or fraud.

All of us are able to gain access to each of these bureau’s credit reports each year for free based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. To receive your copies, you can go to annualcreditreport.com.