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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: What Lenders Look at on Your Credit Report

Does a lender only focus on credit scores when determining whether to extend credit or not? This is a question I am asked frequently. Lenders usually consider a lot of information when making their decision, and people are unsure what they might typically look at. Many lenders go beyond simply looking at your credit scores and also view your full credit report, as well.

When a lender pulls your credit report, they can see identifying information, your trade lines (accounts), credit inquires, public records and accounts in collection. Your credit report also shows things such as the different types of credit that you use, the length of time your accounts have been open, and whether or not you’re paying your bills on time each month. Information like this adds the layers lenders need when making conclusions about your creditworthiness.

All the factors that go into calculating your credit scores are shown on your credit report, and the report itself tells a vivid story of your credit use over time. Your credit report shows what types of credit you use (and when in the past that credit mix has changed), and whether or not your accounts are in good standing. It tells lenders how dependent you are on your current credit and if you’ve been seeking out new sources of credit. Your lender can gather other information about you and your financial habits from other sources – and they certainly might – but your credit report gives them the most complete view of your credit history.

Some lenders also use credit scores that are weighed specifically for their industry. For example, a mortgage lender may use a different scoring model than an auto lender because the risk associated with each type of loan is different. Others may rely upon a combination of scores assigned to you by credit reporting agencies. Although this sounds confusing and maybe even a little unfair, there can be advantages. There’s a chance that the credit score used to determine your loan eligibility, in some circumstances, may be different than the credit score you check on your own.

Of course, there are two sides to every coin. While it’s possible that the credit score your lender uses may differ from the one that you use, the good news is that FICO® Scores are used by the majority of lenders. Differences can happen, but there are ways to have confidence about your credit scores, credit history and report.

Make sure you’re employing best practices for your credit by making all your payments on time and using your credit cards responsibly. Use your FICO Score powered by Experian as a general guide, as you won’t know exactly which credit scoring model a prospective lender may use. Across the credit scoring models, credit scores tend to be relatively consistent when it comes to risk. If the credit score that you see categorizes you as excellent, a lender’s scoring model of choice will likely see you similarly.

FICO is the registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Experian.

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