Are Credit Reports and Credit Scores the Same?


The short answer is no. However, the two are related. Your credit report contains a comprehensive record of your credit history, but your credit score is not included in the report. Your credit score, a three-digit number ranging from 300-850, is calculated using information from your credit report.

What’s the Difference Between My Credit Report and Credit Score?

Credit reports show a detailed account of your borrowing and debt payment history, including loans and credit card debt. Your credit reports are created when your lenders and credit card companies report your activity to the three major credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Each bureau’s reports are formatted slightly differently. However, all of the firms keep records on the same type of information about your financial behaviors, including:

The total debt you owe

A breakdown of how you repay your debt

A history of whether you made your payments on time,if you were late or missed payments

Your credit report is continuously updated, as your lenders report how much credit you’re using and borrowing. Your credit report may also show other financial history information, including foreclosures, bankruptcies, and charge-offs (when your default debt is written off as bad by a creditor). Derogatory entries on your report, also known as negative items, can remain on your file for up to 10 years, affecting your overall creditworthiness and ability to secure new credit.

What Is a Credit Score?

Your credit scores are three-digit numbers ranging from 300 to 850, that scoring model companies, including FICO® Score1 and VantageScore®2, derive from the information in your credit report. The numbers represent the statistical likelihood that you will default on a loan or not pay a credit card as agreed. Higher scores indicate that lending to you is likely less risky, while lower scores mean you may be a higher risk borrower.

Both scoring model systems use certain ingredients or factors to calculate your score. Each model arrives at your score differently, but all consider your healthy credit management habits to determine your score, including:

  1. How you pay your bills. Your payment history, whether you pay your bills on time or late, is the most important influence on your credit score. Payment history gives lenders a good look into how responsible you are with your financial obligations. It also gives them an idea about how you will or if you will pay back your loan or credit on time.
  2. How much credit you’re using. Credit utilization shows lenders how much credit you have access to (your total credit limits) and how much of that credit you are using. Credit experts recommend that you do no use more than 30% of your available credit at any given time. For example, if you have a $500 credit card limit, you should avoid charging more than $150 or 30% on that card.
  3. Your credit ‘shopping’ habits. If you’re continually seeking new credit, lenders may view this behavior as a red flag that your finances are stretched too thin. If you have too many newly-opened accounts or hard inquiries showing that you’re shopping for new credit, this could negatively impact your credit score.

Access to your monthly Experian Credit Report and VantageScore®2 is available for free for Total Credit Solutions members. To learn more about your credit report and the other factors influence your credit scores, visit the CreditCenter website.

1 Credit score calculated based on FICO® Score 8 model. Your lender or insurer may use a different FICO® Score than FICO® Score 8, or another type of credit score altogether. Learn More.

2 Calculated on the VantageScore 3.0 model. Your VantageScore 3.0 from Experian® indicates your credit risk level and is not used by all lenders, so don’t be surprised if your lender uses a score that’s different from your VantageScore 3.0. Click here to learn more.