What Credit Related Information is on my Credit Reports?

You should familiarize yourself with the term “trade” or “trade line.”  This is the common reference to the “account” section of your credit reports.  And, it makes up the bulk of the information in your credit files.

The trade section contains details of your credit card and loan payments such as the type of account, current and historical payment history.  For credit card accounts the information includes; the date the card was opened or “date opened”, the credit limit, the highest amount you have ever charged or the “high credit”, the amount you currently owe or “balance”, and the date this information was reported or “date reported”.

For installment loans such as auto loans and mortgages, the information reported is the date the loan opened, the original loan amount, monthly payment or “payment terms”, the current balance on loan, and date this information was updated or “date reported”.  There are also “open” accounts such as charge cards.  These accounts contain the same information as credit cards save the credit limit.  Since charge cards don’t have a credit limit that field will be empty.

Each account is classified as either revolving (credit card), installment (auto, mortgage, student loan) or open (accounts to be paid in full each month, such as the American Express Green Card).  An account can also be classified as either active or inactive.  An active account is one not closed and has been used recently although this definition varies by credit grantor.  An inactive account can be one that has not been used for some time.

Each account type includes the payment history (both current and historical).  The various possibilities in the payment history section are “currently paid as agreed”, delinquent, charged off, or included bankruptcy.  This rating clearly defines how well you pay your bills.   Historical delinquency is also included, along with the dates the account was past due.

What isn’t in this section of the credit report?  The following are NOT a part of your trade; checking accounts, savings accounts, brokerage accounts,  debit cards, pre-paid cards, gift cards, payday loans,  title loans, and individual credit transactions for a credit card (such as “shoes at Macy’s”).  You also won’t see your interest rates on your credit reports.

John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.

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