Dear TZ - What are credit bureaus, credit reports, and credit scores?

Real Estate Agent with Remax First Realty II 0790808

 Dear TZ -

This credit stuff is confusing - there are credit bureaus, credit reports, and credit scores, and I can't tell the difference. Can you simplify it?

Bob the Borrower


Dear Bob,

Credit bureaus collect and organize credit data - any time you use a credit card or pay an auto loan or a mortgage, they compile the information on your payment history. Then, they sell this information to other credit grantors from whom you seek to borrow money.

There are three major consumer credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Most creditors report to all three bureaus and most mortgage applications require that all three bureaus be reviewed before approval.

A credit report is a summary of your credit and payment history. Thanks to digital processing, it only takes  a few minutes from the time a credit grantor requests your report to the time when they can see it.

There are three types of credit reports:

  1. Single bureau report - provides information from only one of the three credit bureaus.
  2. Tri-merge report - combines information from all three credit bureaus. This is the most common in mortgage applications.
  3. Residential Mortgage Credit Report (RMCR) - A more complex report that is used when a borrower's credit report has inaccuracies or inconsistencies and clarification is needed. This report may include employment and rental history as well as credit and payment history.

A credit score is a numeric value that incorporates all of your credit and payment history into a mathematical equation and calculates the probability of repayment of any future loans.  The 7 factors that affect your score are loan repayment behavior, credit score inquiries, delinquency of loans, length of established credit, composition of credit, quantity of credit already available, and the amount of outstanding loans. For more information on how your credit score is calculated, see  What factors affect my credit score?.

Good luck!

Team Zuhl


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~ Wayne & Jean 

Union County, NJ - a great place to live and work!

If you're looking to buy or sell a property in Union County, call us at 908-917-4189 or email


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All opinions, information and data provided is deemed reliable but is subject to errors and omissions. Not intended to solicit other Brokers' clients. We cooperate with them fully. 

Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

This is good information about credit scores. Thanks for the post.

Mar 17, 2013 09:13 PM
Toni Weidman
Sailwinds Realty - Trinity, FL
20+ Years Selling Homes in New Port Richey, FL

This is always good information for consumers, Wayne & Jean, and you gave very clear information. Suggested.

Mar 17, 2013 11:46 PM
Wayne Zuhl
Remax First Realty II - Cranford, NJ
The Last Name You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

Thanks for stopping by, Gita and Toni!

Mar 18, 2013 06:01 AM
Laura Giannotta
Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore - Little Egg Harbor, NJ
Your Realtor Down the Shore!

Good info for sellers, landlords, tenants and buyers.

Mar 18, 2013 08:59 PM