In the United States, credit score is a number that represents your potential credit risk. Data is taken from your credit history in order to determine how responsible you are with your credit. When you apply for a new credit card, the card issuer uses your credit score to approve or deny you.

Your credit is one of the most important factors in determining your financial stability. If credit is important to you then you should do everything you can to make sure that you continue to have the best credit score possible.

Many countries around the world rely on the credit score to help determine whether or not you are worthy of more credit. In the United States, your credit rate, or alternately the information on your credit report, can greatly influence your ability to get credit such as consumer credit cards and various kinds of loans.

Your credit score is a number that represents the statistical analysis of your creditworthiness, which is typically determined by the three credit bureaus.

The Credit Bureaus

There are three major credit bureaus whose analysis is heavily regarded in the United States:

  • Equifax, one of the oldest agencies in the world, is a consumer credit reporting agency that provides financial services mostly in the business-to-business sector
  • Experian, a global credit information group that collects information on people, businesses, motor vehicles, insurance and “lifestyle” data
  • TransUnion, which was built from major credit bureau acquisitions, offers credit-related information to potential creditors

While these are the three largest, they are not necessarily the only ones. Also, they are by no means perfect, as they have each seen their share of trouble or controversy.

The Scoring System

Each of the major credit bureaus also has their own way of scoring credit. This is probably why it is important that consumers know what each of them are reporting.

  • Equifax has ScorePower
  • Experian has PLUS
  • TransUnion has a proprietary credit score that is unnamed

Each of the three credit agencies also promotes the VantageScore credit score to potential credit customers. At the same time, many larger lenders have also developed their own scoring systems.

There is a fourth traditional scoring system that is used widely in America. This is known as the FICO score. It is primarily used by mortgage lenders who use a risk-based system to determine creditworthiness.

Credit Report vs. Your Credit Score

As an educated consumer, you should know that your credit report is not the same thing as your credit report. Your score, which varies between agencies, is a comprehensive representation of particular aspects of your credit history.

Your credit report is the collective information of all of the action contained within your credit history. In general, though, it is safe to assume to that your credit score will likely reflect what is on your credit report, but they are not, in fact, the same thing.

You are entitled to one free credit report every year, by law. However, you are also entitled to a free report within 60 days of any adverse action that is taken against you in regards to your credit.

Conclusion

Understanding a credit score, as well as how the three major credit bureaus differ, is very important if you want to take full advantage of credit opportunities. Monitoring the movement of  credit score is an important component to maintaining strong credit.