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Why are TransUnion and Equifax Scores so Different?



Question: I have a good entry showing up on my TransUnion credit report. How can I get it to also show up on Equifax and Experian? – Nancy in Alabama

Laura Adams, author, and host of Money Girl podcast responds…

It’s normal for credit reports and credit scores to differ slightly between the nationwide credit bureaus. That’s because the information supplied by lenders, collection agencies, and public records may not match across all three bureaus.

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Not all creditors will report information to all three bureaus

Your creditors decide which bureaus to report your information to. Some may choose to report data to all three major agencies, but others may report to just one or two of them. Some smaller lenders don’t report any data to the credit bureaus.

When data across different credit bureaus is different, the credit scores generated from your credit reports will vary. Depending on your situation, the missing information could help or hurt your scores.

If you have a good credit account that you’d like to appear on all of your credit reports, the only option is to ask the lender. However, they aren’t under any obligation to comply with your request. It cost lenders to set up an account with a credit bureau and begin processing information.

Making a positive impact on your credit score

If you need to improve your credit profile with a particular credit bureau, consider opening a new credit account – such as a credit card or a secured card – that reports payment data to all three bureaus. Once you open an account and begin making monthly payments, you’ll see it listed on your credit reports after a couple of monthly billing cycles.

Here are five main factors that affect your credit scores:

  1. Payment history, or whether you pay your credit accounts on time, makes up about 35% of the typical credit score. That’s the highest factor percentage, which means it’s critical to pay bills on time with no exceptions.
  1. Debt balances make up about 30% of the typical credit score. Credit scoring models analyze the total amount of debt you owe on all your accounts.
  2. Credit history, or how long you’ve had credit accounts, makes up 15% of a typical credit score. Having a long history of using credit responsibly shows lenders and merchants that they can count on you to continue making payments on time in the future.
  3. Credit inquiries, or the number of recent applications for new credit accounts, make up about 10% of a typical credit score.
  4. Credit mix is the number and types of accounts in your name, which accounts for 10% of a typical credit score. 

As you can see, paying bills on time is the best way to build an impressive credit history. Likewise, missing payments or having accounts in collection hurts your credit scores more than any other factor.

If you do have negative information on your credit reports – such as late payments, an account in collections, or a bankruptcy – time is on your side. Those bad marks won’t count against you as much as they age.

Additionally, making small card purchases (less than 20% of your credit limit) and paying them off in full each month, is a wise way to avoid interest and build credit over time.

While you can’t control where your credit data gets reported, you can use these strategies to build a positive payment history on as many credit bureaus as possible.

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