Credit score vs. credit report – what’s the difference?

Getting back to the basics today… 

Let’s break down two very important concepts when it comes to consumer finances. Both credit scores and credit reports are equally as important to understand when it comes to how they’re used by creditors and how you can access them.


Definitions of the two…

Both credit scores and credit reports play an important role in qualifying for everything from loans and credit cards to apartment rentals and some insurance policies.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a three-digit number used to convey a consumer’s creditworthiness—or the likelihood they’ll make on-time bill payments.

Credit scores are calculated from information about your credit accounts. That data is gathered by credit-reporting agencies, also called credit bureaus, and compiled into your credit reports. The three largest bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Typically, a 720 credit score or higher is considered excellent credit while under a 629 is considered poor credit. Additionally, every consumer has a FICO score and VantageScore which tend to vary slightly. To learn more about FICO scores and VantageScores, click here.

What is a credit report?

A credit report is a comprehensive record of a consumer’s credit history that includes outstanding and past lines of credit, payment histories, third-party collections, lender inquiries and public records such as bankruptcies and repossessions. 

Every consumer has three reports—one compiled by each of the three major credit bureaus. Notably, however, credit reports do not include the consumer’s credit score.

The three major credit bureaus collect all of a consumer’s credit activity as reported by lenders and other creditors. The bureaus also maintain a history of the consumer’s personal information and relevant public records. 

While reports are generally the same across bureaus, some content, formatting and information may vary because not all creditors report to all three bureaus…


How and why are credit scores and credit reports used?

While both credit scores and credit reports are used to evaluate a consumer’s risk when it comes to lending and other financial needs, they are used by lenders and other creditors in slightly different ways

Credit Scores

Credit scores are used by lenders, credit card companies and other financial institutions to gauge how much risk a potential borrower poses. Likewise, collection agencies use credit scores to evaluate whether a consumer is likely to pay back a defaulted account. 

Additionally, credit scores can be used by some landlords to assess an applicant’s ability to repay their financial responsibility. Insurers may also use credit-based insurance scores to evaluate the chances of a potential policyholder filing a claim. 

Credit Reports

As with credit scores, lenders and credit card issuers use credit reports to evaluate the likelihood of an applicant paying off their debt on time. Credit reports are also used by insurers to calculate proprietary insurance scores and by collection agencies to guess which accounts a borrower will pay off first.

Employers may use modified reports supplied by the bureaus to prevent fraud and avoid negligent hiring claims. Finally, landlords might use credit reports to evaluate applicants and determine an appropriate security deposit amount.

Credit reports are more than just a number as they encompass:

  • Your identity (your name, birthdate, SSN, address, etc.)
  • Your existing credit (info about your credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, etc.)
  • Your public record (information about any court judgements, bankruptcies, etc.)
  • Inquiries about you (any companies or persons who recently requested a copy of your report)

Credit scores are much more granular as they are the actual score in which a consumer holds based on their financial history. Credit scores break down what consumers’ financial habits look like day-to-day and from action-to-action, whereas credit reports provide a high-level overview of one’s financial history. 


Is one more important than the other?

Yes and no. 

Credit scores and the actions taken to get to a specific credit score help make up the entirety of one’s credit report. While they are both important and have different uses, many times focusing on your credit score will subsequently impact your credit report and thus may be slightly more important…but just slightly. 

Since each of these are used in different ways, it’s also important to keep that in mind when you make purchases, open a credit card, take out a loan and so forth. 

Just remember that your credit score and credit report do not define you. You are more than a number…

However, if your finances have got you down and you want to learn more about TrueConnect’s No Credit Check Advance program which does not require a credit score but may help you build your credit*, watch this short demo. And share it with your HR/Benefits team if it’s something you would use!

*Approval if you meet identification criteria

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