What is a Credit Score?

Credit Reporting Agencies

Most information about credit reporting agencies — also known as credit bureaus — lists only three agencies. These agencies are Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. In reality, there are five agencies that provide access to your credit report, but only those three are mandated by law to provide a free annual credit report to any consumer who asks.

Experian, TransUnion and Equifax each provide you with a free credit report upon request. This credit report will give you a detailed history of your credit, what factors go into its calculation and your credit score itself.

You can also request your credit report from the other two companies, Innovis and PRBC. These companies have a less streamlined process, and they operate slightly differently from the big three. PRBC, for example, allows consumers to enroll directly as reporters. This allows the average person to report certain expenses and payments that would not otherwise be reported, or that might be reported differently and inaccurately. The benefit to your credit score is questionable, but it fluffs up a credit report and makes it look more enticing.

What is a Credit Score?

Credit Score definitions from the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Experian

  • “A credit score is a number lenders use to help them decide: ‘If I give this person a loan or credit card, how likely is it I will get paid back on time?'”
  • “A credit score is a number a lender uses to decide if you’d be a good credit risk for credit cards, auto loans or home mortgage loans.”
  • “A credit score is simply a number that represents the likelihood that you will repay a debt as agreed. Credit scores are calculated using information from your credit report at the moment it is requested by a lender.”

Equifax

  • Basic Definition – A credit score is a rating used by a lender to help determine whether or not you qualify for a particular credit card, loan, or service. The credit reporting companies apply an in-depth mathematical model (called an ‘algorithm’) to the information in your credit file to yield your credit score. Most credit scores estimate the risk a company incurs by lending you money or providing you with a service — specifically, the likelihood that you’ll fail to make payments in the next two to three years.”
  • “Credit Scores are a Snapshot of Your Credit… A credit score is arrived at by applying a mathematical equation to a borrower’s credit history, which results in a score that indicates what kind of credit risk that borrower represents.”
  • “A credit score is a rating used by a lender to help determine whether you qualify for a particular credit card, loan, or service. Based on information in your credit file, the credit reporting company analyzes your information using a complex mathematical model to yield your credit score.”

TransUnion

  • What is a credit score? A credit score is a number used by lenders as an indicator of how likely you are to repay your loans. Your credit score is generated by a mathematical formula utilizing the data from your personal credit report.”
  • “A credit score is the result of advanced analytical models that take a ‘snapshot’ of the consumer’s credit report and translate it into a three-digit number representing the amount of risk a consumer brings to a particular transaction, such as financial, insurance or even employment.”
  • “Your credit score is a snapshot of your creditworthiness. Credit grantors use the score to assess your default risk at a specific point in time.”