You may have heard someone mention that there are “3 credit scores.” What they mean by this is that there are three main credit reporting agencies that collect data and subsequently sell credit reports and scores.
These bureaus include Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
And if these credit scores are packaged and sold in one credit report, which they often are, it’s considered a tri-merge credit report.
A tri-merge credit report includes 3 credit scores from the aforementioned credit reporting agencies, giving you a great overview of your credit history.
Credit Scores Are Often Different
It’s important to get all 3 credit scores because there are often discrepancies amongst the bureaus’ data, for several different reasons.
For starters, not all creditors send all their customer data to each credit bureau – so one of the three may know you’ve been late on a credit card payment, while the other two will be in the dark.
Additionally, the credit bureaus receive data about you at different times, so anytime you pull a tri-merge credit report, there may be different information on file, which will affect the outcome of your credit score.
This could mean that you have a good credit score with the bureau that didn’t take into account the late payment, and an average credit score with the bureau that did.
Finally, credit bureaus define consumer tradelines differently, which adds to the range in scores seen on a tri-merge credit report.
Let’s look at an example:
Assuming most of the information collected was the same, but Experian was the only bureau to know about a late credit card payment you made recently, you could see your 3 credit scores look similar to the example above.
The Equifax and TransUnion credit scores would still be in average to good territory, while the Experian credit score would be bordering on average/bad credit.
Why do all 3 credit scores matter?
It’s important you know all 3 credit scores because certain banks and creditors may only pull one of the three scores, so you’ll want to ensure all of them are in good to great standing.
Additionally, many banks and mortgage lenders will pull a tri-merge credit report and use the middle score, so all three come into play in that scenario.
Fortunately, all three credit reporting agencies score you pretty much the same, so as long as you make on-time payments, keep balances low, and apply for new credit sparingly, you’ll wind up with 3 great credit scores!