Is a Credit Score Part of My Credit Report?

The short answer is “no”, it isn’t.  A credit score is like the floor mats when you buy a car…they’re an optional purchase along with a credit report.

Credit report

Your credit report contains an extensive history of how you pay your credit cards, mortgages, auto loans and student loans.  It also includes tax liens, judgments, suits, bankruptcies and collections.   It includes details on each account such as the balance, the credit limit of a credit card, the original amount of loans, how well (or poorly) you pay the account, dates accounts were opened, and the types of accounts.  A credit report is used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness.

Credit score

Your credit score is not stored on your credit report but is calculated from the data in your credit report.  The score is developed from statistical analysis which results in a formula that calculates the score.  Credit scores are used to summarize the credit data into a simply 3-digit score, which indicates credit risk.  Lenders use the score to approval or deny credit and to set the pricing of loans and credit cards.

Your credit score can change when data is added to your credit report, removed from it or existing data changes.  It isn’t a constant number that follows you because it isn’t a persistent component of the credit report.  The score is only reflective of the credit data at the time the score is calculated.

Not everyone who has a credit report will receive a score.  If there isn’t enough information on your credit report, you won’t receive a score.  Your report must have at least one account that has been opened at least six months, an account that has been reported in the past six months and not disputed (these requirements can be met by one account) and no indication of being deceased.   If you only have accounts opened for less than 6 months or all your accounts are in dispute, you can’t receive a score.

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.  Follow him on Twitter here.

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