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Why Do Credit Scores Vary Among Different Credit Bureaus?

Madhushree Kelkar Jan 18, 2019
Factors like difference in data and score model, automation error, time of data compilation, etc., can cause varying credit scores. Read to know why credit scores vary in different bureaus.
According to FreeScore, LLC (a leading provider of credit scores), though the information collected is fairly standard, your credit score can vary possibly as much as 40 points between the three credit bureaus.
Credit bureaus or credit scoring agencies collect, compile, and analyze the data from various credit sources. This helps them determine the credit information about individuals, which can then be applied for various uses. They provide information of your previous loans, bill payments, mortgages, etc. It helps to calculate your credit score and credit risk.
The history of your credit is utilized by lenders to screen your application and avoid giving loans to high-risk borrowers. It also helps to establish your creditworthiness. Your credit score can have a direct impact on the sanction of loan, amount of loan, rate of interest, and other terms and conditions of the loan.
The three major credit bureaus in the US are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. As all three have distinct scoring models, the credit score of an individual may differ for each of these credit bureaus. Apart from this, there are several other reasons why credit scores differ among different credit bureaus.

Credit Report

All the three credit bureaus may have different information about you in their credit reports, and this may affect your credit score. It may so happen that a credit bureau may not have complete knowledge about all your accounts, which the other bureaus may have.
For example, there may be a collection account on the credit file of one of the credit bureaus. This means that it will impact that particular credit score while not reflecting in the credit reports of the other two bureaus. This will cause the credit score to vary from bureau to bureau.

Sources of Credit Report

The information regarding the credit score is often sourced from lenders, court records, collection agencies, etc.
Hence, there is a possibility that complete and accurate information may not reach the credit bureaus. It may also happen that these parties may provide differing or conflicting information to the credit bureaus. This will definitely affect the credit scores.


The credit information sourced from the lenders is often reported during different periods; hence, the bureaus may not have updated information. Also, if one bureau is sourcing information after another, there is a possibility that it may have more recent information than the earlier one. This will cause the credit score to differ from bureau to bureau.

Scoring Model

Every agency implements its own mathematical formula to calculate your credit score.
Experian utilizes The PLUS Score, The Equifax implements Credit Score, and TransUnion uses The TransRisk to calculate your credit score. While Experian's scoring method provides an in-depth understanding of credit score and ways to improve it, Equifax helps in predicting credit risk.
TransUnion's method gives the consumers an accurate credit score. It is based on the similar lines of the FICO score. The credit score is always inversely proportionate to the credit risk. Hence, there is disparity among the credit scores.

Difference in Data

It has been observed that the credit score can vary among the various credit bureaus even when the credit scoring models have the same range. This is primarily because of the difference in the underlying data used for scoring.

Automation Error

Automated information is used by the credit bureaus for processing your credit score. While automation of information is easy, it also possesses a threat of errors which occur while transmitting data.
For example, when you swipe your credit card at a mall, the information that is generated will be used for judging your credit score.
However, if the accurate information does not reach the credit bureaus, they will not be able to give you the correct score. It may also happen that the correct information will reach one bureau while an error may occur at the other. This will lead to different credit scores.

Error in Name

It may so happen that you may have applied for a credit card, mortgage, auto loan, personal loan, etc., with different names or variation of your own name. For example, Jackie Carlson at some places and Jacqueline Carlson at the others. This may lead to ambiguity, identity confusion, and result in different credit scores at all the three credit bureaus.

Incomplete Data

In most cases, when the credit bureaus process the data accurately which is in your name, there are chances that incomplete or wrong data can turn detrimental for your credit score.
For example, social security number, credit card statement, address, etc., if not filled accurately, can lead to one person's information to be attributed to someone else's credit score. This will be a bigger problem if the other person uses his credit recklessly and his score is reflected in your account.

FICO Score

Not all scores will be based on the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) model. FICO credit scores have a score range of 300-850. Hence, they will vary with each credit bureau.


It is a score that all three bureaus have created together. It was unveiled in March 2006. All three agencies implement the same formula in order to calculate the VantageScore. However, it still has discrepancies, as each credit report may have different data.
Now that you know why do credit scores vary among different credit bureaus, you will be able to take calculated steps towards increasing your credit score.
Instead of comparing your scores with different bureaus, it is advisable that you understand your creditworthiness and confirm that the information in your credit report is correct. This can be done by checking your free credit reports on websites which are easily available online.