What Is the Difference Between a Credit Report and Credit Score?

Although closely interrelated, credit reports and credit scores are different.

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Many people use the terms credit report and credit score interchangeably. However, while credit reports and credit reports are interrelated, they are not the same thing. Read on to learn the difference between credit reports and credit scores.

(For comprehensive information about credit reports and scores, as well as articles on how to improve your credit, see our Credit Report topic page.)

Credit Report

Your credit report provides a detailed account of your credit history. It lists most companies to which you owe money, companies with which you have open-ended credit (such as a credit card), and other information that creditors and other companies report to the credit reporting agencies (also called the credit bureaus).

If a creditor reports a debt or revolving account (such as a credit card) on your credit report, your report will list the maximum credit limit extended to you by the creditor, the last reported monthly payment, the date of origination, the last date of activity on the account or debt, and whether the creditor considers you current on the account.

Because potential creditors use your report to decide whether to extend creditor or a loan to you, or to determine what your interest rate and terms will be, it's important to review your credit report regularly to ensure its accuracy.

(For comprehensive information about what can and cannot be reported on your credit report, how to get your credit report, how to dispute errors on your report, and more, visit our Credit Reports area.)

Credit Score

Your credit score is a number assigned to you that is supposed to indicate your creditworthiness -- that is, how likely it is that you will repay a loan or credit line. There are many companies that compute credit scores (perhaps the best known is Fair Isaac which produces the FICO score), and each computes them in a slightly different way. This means that you have more than one credit score at any given moment.

For the most part, however, credit scoring companies look at several factors when computing your score: payment history (whether you pay bills late or have filed for bankruptcy), outstanding debt, length of credit history, and how much new credit you have applied for. For details on each of these factors, see our Credit Scores area.

Relationship Between Credit Reports and Credit Scores

While creditors often look only at your credit score, some will look at your credit report as well. But as a consumer, you don't need to worry too much about which one the creditor looks at. This is because for the most part, your credit score is based on information in your credit report. That means if you have a good credit report, you'll have a strong credit score, and vice-versa. Things you do to make your credit report better will improve your credit score.

To learn how to improve your credit report and score, see our Credit Repair area.

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