How Does a Score Differ Between the 3 Credit Bureaus?

Understanding the 3 credit bureau differences can be tricky. The top 3 credit bureaus are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Although they gather and disperse the same information, these 3 credit reporting agencies categorize debt in different ways, resulting in different FICO scores for each company.

What Is a FICO Score?

A FICO score is a grading system implemented to establish a payment history. The scoring system varies between 300 and 850 and is generated by combining financial information of the borrower. Every piece of financial information has a certain weight of importance and is translated into a percentage. These items include:

  • Payment History (35%)
  • Credit Utilization (30%)
  • Length of Credit History (15%)
  • Types of Credit (10%)
  • Recently Obtained Credit or Inquiries (10%)

Equifax: Widely Used of the 3 Credit Reporting Agencies

Equifax is the oldest out of the 3 credit reporting agencies. Equifax uses the Fair Isaac Corporation, also known as FICO scores to determine the credit worthiness of a person. Although Equifax started out heavily in the Business sector, it has also made way for easier personal tracking use for people to observe and monitor their credit so they can see how lenders see them. The headquarters are in Atlanta Georgia and they provide global credit.

Experian Credit Agency

Experian is also a global credit agency that is located in Dublin, Ireland for their headquarters and Costa Mesa, California for the U.S. headquarters. Experian uses VantageScore. Vantage score uses a consistent scoring method that gives a better snapshot of the person or businesses risk factor. The model gives score cards ranging from 501-990 that translate into an A (901-990), B (801-900), C (701-800), D (601-700), and F (501-600).

VantageScore is a system that was developed by the top 3 credit bureaus that uses the same formula for each. This provides a more robust way of seeing the credit score and smoothes out discrepancies. In general, the VantageScore is FICO scores rival.


TransUnion is the third largest of the credit reporting agencies. It has acquired its status by purchasing smaller credit reporting agencies in the United States. It too, along with Equifax and Experian uses VantageScore.

Where it Really Differs

Since the inception of VantageScore, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion have united on a single score. When it comes to this score, if all information is correct at all three credit reporting bureaus, you will receive the most accurate score.

The problem is there are many things that can go wrong on a credit profile. Each company selects information a different way and some might be more reliable than others. In fact, any one of the credit agencies could have one or more pieces of information that are either incorrect or not up to date. This is why pulling your credit score is recommended at least once a year.

If you find something wrong on your credit report, you will have to dispute it with all three agencies. Doing so is sometimes time consuming and requires patience. In the long run, however, it will help your credit score.