What to Do if Your Credit Reports Show Different Scores

Updated on March 12, 2024

People who have a credit history receive their credit scores from credit bureaus at a certain point. But when you see the numbers, you might have different scores on the credit reports. There are several causes for this, but what should you do if your credit reports show different scores? Let’s find out!

What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a type of rating used to assess the creditworthiness of a person. It was created back in 1989 and ever since, it was used as a way to determine how worthy someone is of receiving credit or other benefits, or whether they represent a risk. Think of it as a way to see how financially responsible a person is.

These FICO Scores are made using a certain scoring algorithm. Using this scoring system allows a lender to make a decision when someone applies for a loan, for instance. It’s a good way to protect themselves against risks, which involve a client who will probably not be able to repay the loan. It can also protect a borrower from bias.

The credit score goes from 300 to 850. 300 is the lowest someone can have, and 850 is the highest. Depending on how many points the credit score has, it will determine how risky a borrower is. For example, a credit score below 465 is considered bad. Scores over 659 are considered fair, whereas those over 705 are good scores. Meanwhile, a score higher than 785 is excellent.

This is why it’s so important to have a good credit score and why so many people are stressed about it. If the score is low, the risk is higher, and vice versa, and it could seriously affect their access to different benefits like loans, mortgages, or credit cards.

Factors that Determine Your FICO Score

There are multiple factors that help determine someone’s credit score, and they include:

Payment History

Your payment history is a very important part of the process, and it involves paying your bills on time. Before you are given a loan and get the responsibility of making regular payments towards a loan or a credit card, all lenders and creditors need to know how responsible you are with your debts. Paying your bills on time is a major contributor to this.

Payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, which means you cannot afford to pay your bills late. Of course, if you miss a payment on your loan or credit card by a few days it’s not an issue. This problem will only be reported if you are late for over 30 days.

Amounts Owed

How much of your credit card limit on the credit cards is in use influences the score making process. It is known as credit card utilization. You have to make sure that you keep it at either 30% or lower than that. This will ensure your score is higher.

Length of Credit History

This aspect refers to the amount of time you’ve been using credit. If you have a long and established track record already, then getting a good credit score is much easier. This is why you should not even consider closing your old credit card accounts, even if you don’t use them too much. Keep them as they will help a lot when it comes to creating your score.

New Credit

The new credit is taken into account too, and that is because every time you try to apply for a loan or credit card, a hard credit inquiry will be made. Hard inquiries will always decrease your score by a few points. If you try to open too many accounts within a short amount of time, then the score will take a blow, and future creditors will start being suspicious of you. You’ll ruin your ways of obtaining credit anytime soon.

Credit Mix

A credit mix accounts for 10% of your credit score. This is why you should consider having a good mix of installment and revolving debt.

Why Your Score May Vary by Credit Bureau

So, why is it that you may get different scores from different reporting agencies sometimes? Shouldn’t they all be the same everywhere?

Well, even if you are expecting the score to be the same everywhere, it can be different based on certain circumstances. You have to think that there are three different credit reporting agencies nationwide, respectively Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. It’s not unusual to see that they report different scores for the same person. All three of them collect similar information, but if the score ends up being different, you shouldn’t be scared.

There are multiple reasons why sometimes the rating is different. For instance, there are various scoring models, and because of that, certain information may weigh heavier in the reports compared to other factors.

Some scoring models may care more about your credit usage compared to others, for example. As a result, it’s possible to end up having a different score for those that do this compared to those that don’t.

Besides, some lenders may choose to report to only one or two of the credit reporting agencies, while some lenders report to all three of them. As a result, the information on your credit reports may be different, and that’s why the scores can end up being different as well.

Lastly, the credit score can change based on when it’s calculated. Even if the same scoring model is being used, it’s still possible for the score to change depending on the day it’s calculated. As information in your credit report is updated, the scores may change.

Should You Be Worried?

What to do if your credit reports show different scores? Well, one thing is certain: you shouldn’t be worried. Having different scores is not something that should be of concern because it’s normal, particularly if the differences are not huge. Of course, it’s essential to check for any issues if you notice quite a big difference.

So, you should always check your credit reports to make sure the information on them is accurate, and ensure you recognize all the accounts on it. Doing this will keep you up to date with all the changes – so, you’ll know if you need to do anything to fix the problem. Not to mention that this will also help protect you against any potential fraud. Through April 2021, it’s possible to access your credit for free every week, and you can do this for all three credit reporting agencies without issues.  


Getting a different score on the three credit reports is a scenario that is likely to happen under some circumstances, so if it happens to you, make sure you don’t panic. More often than not, it’s not a problem. Keep an eye on your credit reports so you’re sure that all information is valid and is nothing suspicious there. Most likely, there is a good reason for your different scores.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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