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Checking your credit report annually is important if you ever plan on borrowing money
posted in: Financial Wellness
by Christy McFarland

FAQ’s: Credit report vs credit score

Whether it’s for a home, car or education, having a good credit report and credit score is essential if you ever want to borrow money. Your credit report and score provide lenders with an idea of how likely you are to pay back your loans. Take a look at some frequently asked questions when it comes to credit reports and credit scores.

What’s the difference between a credit report and a credit score?

Credit reports

Your credit report is a very detailed summary of your credit history. You’ll see every college loan, credit card and any past bankruptcies. It’ll even show if you missed any payments or whether you make your payments on time.

Credit scores

Credit scores generally range from 300 to 850 and are created for you based on your credit report. So, if you don’t pay your credit card bills on time, this could impact your score. Typically, car dealerships, credit card companies, and utility companies only pay attention to your credit score. When you make larger purchases, like a home, your report will likely be considered. 

What’s more important between the two?

It’s up for debate and depends on how you look at things. Your credit score comes from your credit report. That being said, some argue your credit report is more important. That’s why checking your credit report every year is so critical. If there is fraudulent activity on your credit report, you can report that activity. If you never go out and check your report, you may never know if there is fraudulent activity out there. Negative marks on your credit report can bring your credit score down.

Your report will also give you a good idea of where you are in terms of debt, how often you pay your bills on time, and a general idea of what is taken into account when your credit score is generated. It also might remind you of some credit cards you have open that you completely forgot about.


How do I access my (truly) free credit report?

Through the Fair Credit Reporting Act, each of the credit report agencies are required to provide you a copy of your credit report each year, for free. There are a lot of companies out there claiming to provide you free reports, but this is the only one authorized under federal law.

Here’s how to get your hands on your report:

  • Go to annualcreditreport.com
  • Call 1-877-322-8228
  • Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

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