What Is the Difference Between a Credit Score and a Credit Report? Facts to Know About FICO

Credit score
Credit score vs. credit report
Image Source: Flickr User CafeCredit.com

Your credit score will be critically important throughout your life for a variety of reasons. Your score is based on your credit report, and they are drastically different things. One drives the other, but you must keep your eye on both to protect your future, save money, and have the best opportunities for your career and finances.

Today, Credit Score Keys explains the difference between your credit score and credit report.

What Is a Credit Report?
Your credit report is an archive of your financial behavior for the last seven to 10 years (and sometimes longer). It is not a credit score, though, and there is no number to evaluate it. You have more than one credit report. In fact, you should have three credit reports.
There are three credit bureaus that archive credit history of consumers. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion complete reports on everyone with credit activity in the United States. The longer your credit history and the more accounts you have, the longer your report will be.
Children should not have credit reports, and if you have no credit activity, credit accounts, or collections activity, you might not have one at all. If you have just a couple of credit items, it’s called a “thin” credit file. Here are some other facts about credit reports:

  • If a creditor ran your credit score to offer credit, they should report your activity.
  • The report will include accounts you’ve opened and closed as well as loans.
  • The report shows the history of your payment activity on accounts.
  • If you are late or go over your limits, that will reflect negatively on your report.
  • If you pay on time and keep your balances low, that reflects positively.
  • If you have been sued or garnished over debt, that will show on your report, too.


What Is a Credit Score?
Your credit score is a three-digit numerical value that is calculated based on data from your credit report. But like your credit report, there is more than one version. A FICO score is a branded credit score calculated by the Fair Isaac Corporation.
There are about 50 different FICO scores. Some are calculated specifically for mortgages and some for insurance purposes. There are also newer and older versions of FICO scores. Many creditors, banks, and lenders use FICO 8, but there are newer versions.
In addition to all the different types of calculations, each can be based on a different credit bureau report so that adds more potential scores to the mix. There are also proprietary scores calculated by the credit bureaus that are not FICO scores. Also, consider these facts:

  • Whether you pay on time or have late payments is a big part of the calculation.
  • How long your credit accounts have been open, on average, is also critical.
  • How recently you’ve applied for credit (called inquiries) also factors into the score.
  • A variety of accounts may benefit your score (mortgage, car loan, credit cards, etc.)
  • The less you use your available credit, the higher your score calculation.
  • Your score is not fixed and will likely change as activity reports to the credit bureaus.


What Is a Good Credit Score?
Credit scores run the gamut between 300, which is terrible, and 850, which is about as perfect as you can get. A score in the upper 600s is good and above 720 is very good. Your score may differ depending on which credit bureau report from which it is calculated. The difference is because each bureau has slight differences in reporting policies plus when a creditor pulls a credit check on you, it will come from just one bureau so several “hard inquiries” can lower your score from that bureau.
If you’re rebuilding your finances after filing bankruptcy, contact Credit Score Keys today for help improving your credit score. Call 919-495-2365 today for a free consultation for North Carolina consumers.

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