Credit Report vs. Credit Score: Differences and Similarities

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Your credit score and credit reports play a big part in your financial life. But what is a credit report, and how does it differ from your credit score?

Your credit report is a comprehensive list of all the loans and lines of credit you’ve had under your name. It also details your payment history, employment and past addresses.

Your credit score is a number whose calculation is based on the information from your credit report and tells lenders how creditworthy you are; the higher your score, the less of a risk you’re considered to be as a borrower.

Let’s dive a little deeper by looking at the following topics:

Credit report vs. credit score: Differences

Your credit reports and scores affect your everyday life. They use the same information, but there are some key differences in how you can access and use your report versus how you can view your score.

Credit Report vs. Credit Score
Credit reportCredit score
What it isA record of your loan, credit and payment historyA numeric score that companies calculate based on the information in your credit report
How it’s usedTo evaluate total outstanding debt and history of missed payments or delinquenciesTo determine the likelihood that you’ll pay your bills in the future
How to check itAnnualCreditReport.com● Experian, Equifax or TransUnion
● Some credit cards
Cost to access itFreeFree with some credit cards,
$19.95 to $39.99 with credit score services
Who can see itCreditors, insurers, employers or businesses who use your report to evaluate applications for credit, employment and other purposesCreditors and businesses, such as phone or insurance companies

What is a credit report?

Your credit report is a history of your credit habits, including past accounts opened under your name.

How much does a credit report cost? There is no credit report fee — under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the law requires the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to allow you to view your credit report for free every 12 months.

You can access your credit report at no cost at AnnualCreditReport.com, where you can typically get a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once per year — however, the three major bureaus are giving people free weekly access to their credit reports through April 2021.

What’s included on a credit report?

What does a credit report show exactly? A detailed credit report is a comprehensive history of your past credit use, payment history and public records.

Your credit report will include the following information:

  • Accounts: A list of loans, credit cards and other lines of credit under your name.
  • Credit limits: The total amount of debt and credit limits available to you.
  • Payment history: How often you paid your loans, credit cards and other lines of credit on time, as well as how many payments you’ve missed.
  • Credit inquiries: A list of businesses that have obtained your credit report.
  • Personal information: Your current and former names, addresses and past employers.
  • Public records: Bankruptcies appear on your credit report.

Your credit report does not include your credit score. If you’re looking for a credit report with credit score, you’ll likely have to pay for premium credit score services.

What is a credit score?

When it comes to understanding the difference between credit report and credit score, the major factor that separates them is the level of detail. While your credit report is likely pages long and shows your entire credit history, your credit score is just a three-digit number.

Your credit score is the number that lenders use to determine if you’re a good risk. The higher the score, the more likely you are to pay your bills, in the lender’s view.

Scoring companies, like FICO and VantageScore, use proprietary calculations based on the information on your credit report to determine your credit score. While you can get your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, you can’t access your credit score the same way. In most cases, you’ll have to pay a fee to view your credit score.

One of the most common credit score questions is, “Why are my credit scores different?” The answer is that there are different types of credit scores, and each one has its own different scoring model. Depending on the type of score, information is weighed differently, which can cause your score to fluctuate.

FICO Score

Created by the Fair Isaac Corporation, the FICO Score is one of the most common credit scores. In fact, the company claims that the FICO Score is used by more than 90% of top consumer lenders.

FICO Scores range from 300 to 850. Your score is based on the following factors:

  • Payment history (35% of your score): To maximize your score, make all of your payments on time.
  • Amounts owed (30% of your score): To raise your score, pay down debt and keep your credit card balances low.
  • Length of credit history (15% of your score): How long you’ve had credit cards or loans affects your score. Canceling older accounts, such as credit cards, can cause your score to drop.
  • New credit (10% of your score): Opening up new lines of credit can cause your score to decrease.
  • Credit mix (10% of your score): Having a range of credit types, such as student loans, credit cards and personal loans, can improve your credit score.

While you usually have to pay to view your FICO Score, some credit cards allow you to get your FICO Score at no cost.

FICO Score RangeRatingDescription
<580PoorYour score is below average, and lenders will consider you to be a risky borrower
580-669FairYour score is considered subprime, meaning you’ll qualify for less-than-ideal interest rates
670-739GoodApproximately 8% of applicants in this range will become seriously delinquent in the future
740-799Very GoodYour score will allow you to qualify for most credit cards and loans and get competitive interest rates
800+ExceptionalWith a credit score in the exceptional range, you’ll qualify for lenders’ best rates

VantageScore

First introduced in 2006, VantageScore is increasingly common. Now on its most recent iteration, VantageScore 4.0, the newer VantageScore ranges from 300 to 850.

While VantageScore does not disclose exactly how it weighs each factor, it considers the following elements when determining your credit score:

  • Total credit usage, balance and available credit (extremely influential): To boost your credit, keep your revolving balances low.
  • Credit mix and experience (highly influential): Having a mix of different accounts, such as mortgages and credit cards, can improve your credit.
  • Payment history (moderately influential): Make all of your payments on time to maintain your credit score.
  • Age of credit history (less influential): Keep older accounts open to build your credit.
  • New accounts (less influential): Don’t open too many new accounts if your goal is to improve your credit score.
VantageScore RangeRatingDescription
300-499Very PoorYou are unlikely to qualify for lines of credit
500-600PoorYou may be approved for some forms of credit, but rates may be high and there may be additional requirements (such as a large down payment)
601-660FairYou may qualify for lines of credit, but not at competitive rates
661-780GoodLenders will likely approve you for better-than-average rates
781-850ExcellentWith an excellent credit score, you’ll most likely to qualify for lines of credit and lender’s lowest rates

Credit report and credit score: FAQ

What does a credit report show?

Your credit report shows your past credit history. It includes a list of credit cards and loans that you’ve taken out, your payment history, employment and public records.

Where can I access a detailed credit report?

You can view your credit for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can get a credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once per year, or weekly through April 2021.

How much does a credit report cost?

If you get your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com, there is no cost; you can get a credit report from each of the credit bureaus for free.

What public records appear on a credit report?

Your credit report will show records of past bankruptcies. Public records like civil judgments and liens used to appear on credit reports, but no longer do.

Will a credit card issuer consider your credit report?

When a credit card company reviews your application, it may review your credit score and your credit report to determine whether to approve you.

Does a credit report show a credit score?

No, a credit report does not include your numeric FICO Score or VantageScore. If you want to view your score, you’d typically have to pay a fee. However, there are some ways you can get your credit score at no cost.

What is the starting credit score?

Both FICO and VantageScores start at 300. A bad credit score tends to be below 580 for FICO and below 600 for VantageScore.

What is a fair credit score?

According to FICO, a fair credit score is a score between 580 and 669. For VantageScore, a fair credit score is a score between 601 and 660.

Why are my credit scores different?

There are multiple credit scoring models, such as the FICO Score and VantageScore. Each model calculates your score differently, so your score can vary depending on which scoring model is used.

Can an employer access your credit score?

Employers cannot access your credit score, but they can view your credit report if you provide your written consent.

Can a landlord access your credit score?

Landlords can view your credit score (generally in an abridged form called a tenant credit score or resident credit score), as well as your credit report, when reviewing your application for housing with your given consent.

How can I better understand my credit score?

Your credit score is calculated using the information from your credit report, so it’s a good idea to review your credit report regularly. If you find inaccurate information, make sure you dispute these inaccuracies with the credit bureaus to ensure your credit report is correct and your credit score is as high as possible.

Melanie Lockert contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 6.66%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.89% – 5.90%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.09%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.99% – 5.64%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.98% – 8.55%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 2.32% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 10/15/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.98% APR to 8.55% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.