How do I read and understand a credit report? - Other Questions


ADVERTISING DISCLOSURE: is an independent, advertising-supported web site. receives compensation from most credit card issuers whose offers appear on our site. Compensation from our advertising partners impacts how and where their products appear on our site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within review lists. has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace.

Credit Card Applications » Questions » User Questions » Other » How do I read and understand a credit report?

How do I read and understand a credit report?

Answered on | Updated on August 11th, 2010
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

Each consumer has not one, but three credit reports, one each from the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These three credit bureaus sell the information indicated on the credit report to consumers; however, a recent Federal Law has mandated these bureaus to provide consumers with one free annual report. If you want to have a look at your report more than once a year, you will have to pay for it.

It is important that you get all three credit reports, because at times, the figures in each report vary from each other. By getting all three, you will be able to compare and contrast these figures. If the difference is too great, you may report this to the bureaus and dispute this. It is also of significance that the consumer personally gets his or her credit report, because by doing so, he or she can get the “consumer copy”, which is translated into more laymen’s terms.

You should then take a look at the sections of each credit report. The first section is “identifying information.” This contains your name and other public information about yourself, such as your SSS number, driver’s license, and public address. You should check all three credit reports if the information is accurate and correct. For instance, check the spelling of your name – remember, just a single mistake could pose as inconveniences for your identification. Also, a single mistake in your social security number would have negative consequences for you.

The second section is your “credit history” which includes the kind of credit you have, whether they are installments you’ve made, other transactions such as loans and / or mortgages; your balance, or how much you still owe; indication if you have reached the credit limit or not, status of your account or accounts (if you have more than one), whether they are open, closed, active, inactive, or paid; and indication of how well your maintenance of the account/s is. Other information showed is if the account you hold is shared with another person.

The other sections of a credit report are the consumer’s “public records” and “inquiries”.

Once you’ve gone over the reports, as mentioned earlier, you should then compare the information from the three bureaus and immediately inform the bureau in writing of any anomaly or mistake, especially if it’s a wrong figure or balance in the credit history section of your credit report.

Disclaimer: This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer(s). Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer(s), and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer(s). Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate information, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult a card's issuing bank for the terms & conditions.
All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.
Get the latest news, articles and expert advice delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.
The Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
Excellent, Good Credit
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases.
Good, Excellent Credit
See Rates & Fees
Perfect credit not required for approval; we may approve you when others won’t
Fair/Bad Credit

Other Questions in

You've successfully subscribed!

Please specify the following:All these fields are optional

Your Credit History
Themes you are interested in:

By providing this information you help us make our news letters more useful and informative. Thank you!