What is a tri-merge and what does it mean for me?

Making sure you understand your total credit picture.

If you’ve ever applied for a loan, you may have heard the term “tri-merge” from your lender. Lenders will often tell you that they need to review your tri-merge or check your tri-merge to make sure you qualify and can get approved?

So what is a tri-merge and is it any different from the credit profile that you see when you review your own credit?

Tri-merge is just a fancy term for 3-in-1

A tri-merge isn’t really anything all too remarkable – really, it’s just a single credit score and/or credit report that summarizes the information provided by all three credit bureaus.

Every consumer actually has three separate credit reports and three separate credit scores. You have one report and score from each credit bureau. So the report and score from Experian are different from the ones that originate from Equifax or TransUnion.

When you apply for a loan or a credit card, the lender always wants to assess your risk as a borrower. To do this, they review your credit report and credit score. But reviewing only one set from one credit bureau won’t provide them with the whole picture. So they look at all three.

Fact: Credit score ranges – Experian, 330-830; Equifax, 280-850; TranUnion, 300-850.

Basically, the “tri-merge” is the all-in-one credit report and summary credit score that a creditor or lender looks at to get the full story of your history as a credit user. That way, they can make an accurate assessment to decide to extend you a line of credit. Your tri-merge will also determine what terms they offer, including the all-important interest rate.

Are a tri-merge and FICO credit score the same thing?

No – your tri-merge credit score and FICO credit score are not the same thing. The FICO credit score is the original credit score calculation that the bureaus and other creditors use as a baseline.

Fair, Issac and Company created the concept of a credit score and how it is calculated. The credit bureau each use their own variation of the FICO formula to calculate their own scores. So the bureau scores differ from your FICO score. A tri-merge credit score is a summary score that combines the scores from all three bureaus, so it is not necessarily the same thing.

Can I check my own tri-merge?

This is where an independent third-party credit monitoring service comes in handy, because it usually provides credit profile information from all three bureaus. You see your own total credit picture – so you see everything a creditor or lender will see when they run your credit.

Click for free credit score and $1 credit report

As a result, you won’t face any surprises when you apply for a new loan or credit card, or call a creditor to negotiate something like an interest rate reduction. It can be stressful, delay important purchases and life decisions, and even cause you more financial issues. So it’s better to be as informed as possible.

An independent credit monitoring service provides the information from all three bureaus just like a tri-merge. You can get all three reports AND all three scores. If you go through a credit bureau directly, at best you’ll get all three reports but you’ll only get one score. That’s why we recommend going through a third-party provider.

Pop Quiz

What is a Beacon credit score?

a) A credit score from a fourth credit bureau, Beacon

b) Another name for your tri-merge score

c) The credit score used by mortgage lenders

d) Another name for your Equifax credit score

Reveal Answer

Tip: Equifax calls their credit score Beacon. TransUnion’s credit score is called an Empirica, while Experian often refers to their calculation as FICO II.

d) Another name for your Equifax credit score

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