What is a credit report?

By Ben Woolsey  |  Published: April 26, 2006

You hear it mentioned in commercials all the time, and you know it is important. But what is a credit report? Put simply, your credit report is what lenders look at when deciding whether or not to approve you for a new credit card or other loan application. A good credit report can get you better credit card APRs or car loan rates. On the other hand, a bad credit report can also cause you a lifetime of problems.

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There are three major credit agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. These agencies, or "credit bureaus," collect and report information about your financial habits and put this information into a credit report. Your credit report typically includes:

  • Your name
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your current and previous addresses
  • Information about your current and past loans
  • Your public record information (bankruptcies, court judgments, liens)
  • A list of companies that have reviewed your credit

Your credit report demonstrates to potential lenders how you handle debt and helps them to determine whether you are a good candidate to lend money to. That is why it is important to look at your credit report once a year. This way, if there are any mistakes or problems, you can resolve them with the credit bureau before applying for a new loan.

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Updated: 10-22-2017

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