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TransUnion vs. Equifax: What’s the Difference?

Written by Mike Pearson
Updated August 10, 2022

Finding the most reputable credit reporting agency is very important, especially when making big purchases that require a high credit score. Both TransUnion and Equifax offer consumers reliable credit reports, but what’s the difference between them?

TransUnion and Equifax both present credit report information, but the information presented isn’t always the same, as each bureau’s credit monitoring services are different. Additionally, TransUnion and Equifax calculate credit scores differently, resulting in contrasting scores.

The rest of this article will discuss the main differences between TransUnion and Equifax and which is better in terms of credit scores. I’ll also go over which credit bureau lenders typically look at and what’s considered a “good” score for both TransUnion and Equifax.

Choosing Between TransUnion and Equifax

When it comes to credit reporting agencies, it can be difficult choosing the right one, as each credit bureau uses different scoring models to calculate your credit score. Therefore, even if one score appears better than the other, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the better credit bureau.

Although one bureau isn’t necessarily better, each has different benefits, which I’ll discuss more in the following sections.

TransUnion Benefits

TransUnion is a beneficial and reputable credit bureau because it calculates scores using only the VantageScore model, which means that its scores remain consistent. Additionally, TransUnion offers unlimited access to your VantageScore credit score report for $29.95 a month.

Equifax Benefits

Equifax has more variety in the scores that it offers compared to TransUnion. While TransUnion only provides VantageScore scores, Equifax provides: 

Therefore, there’s more variety, and a subscription costs only $19.95 a month.

Why Your TransUnion and Equifax Scores Are Different

Although TransUnion and Equifax both report the same information, it’s common to see different scores between the two. While the scores are typically close enough not to be worrisome, seeing different scores on your reports can be confusing.

Your credit scores on TransUnion and Equifax could be different for two reasons.

TransUnion and Equifax May Receive Different Information

While you might think that credit bureaus all have the same information on your financial history, this isn’t always the case. 

There are three main credit bureaus: 

  • TransUnion
  • Equifax
  • Experian 

These bureaus will likely have the same information about you, but all three might not have the same information all the time. This could be due to differences in timing when updating information. 

Or it could be because the lender didn’t give your information to one or more of the bureaus.

Despite what’s commonly believed, lenders aren’t required to report any information to credit bureaus and are not legally obligated to. Therefore, this can result in varying information between the credit bureaus.

Some lenders might only report information to TransUnion and not Equifax, or vice versa, which can lead to different scores. However, although this is possible, most lenders will report information to all three credit bureaus.

Differing information between the credit bureaus can also occur when lenders send out information to the bureaus at different times. 

Therefore, you may see contradictory scores if you check your credit report between these times.

TransUnion and Equifax Calculate Credit Scores Differently

Having different information on a consumer is a big reason why TransUnion and Equifax will report varying scores. However, another critical reason to consider why scores are so different is because of the different ways they calculate credit scores.

Credit bureaus, including TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, calculate credit scores using different formulas. Additionally, these bureaus may look at your credit information and weigh it differently, depending on the credit you applied for.

Let’s get into how both TransUnion and Equifax calculate credit scores.

How TransUnion Calculates Credit Scores

TransUnion calculates scores using the VantageScore 3.0 model. In this model, the numerical scale ranges from 300 to 850, and the higher the number, the better the credit score. With this range, the information is weighed with different percentages based on the credit type. 

The scores are calculated with the following percentages:

  • Payment history – 40%
  • Credit history length – 21%
  • Credit utilization – 20%
  • Recently reported balances amount – 11%
  • New credit accounts – 5%
  • Available credit – 3%

With TransUnion, the most crucial factor that’s attributed to your credit score is your payment history. However, your credit history is also essential because it demonstrates how you manage your finances and accounts.

How Equifax Calculates Credit Scores

Equifax calculates credit scores using its own credit score model. Unlike TransUnion, which calculates credit scores with a scale range of 300 to 850, Equifax uses a numerical range of 280 to 850.

With Equifax, credit scores are weighted differently depending on the following factors:

  • Payment history
  • Credit history length
  • Number of accounts
  • Type of accounts
  • Used credits vs. Available credits

As with TransUnion, your payment history is one of the most vital factors contributing to your credit score with Equifax. 

Along with their own credit score model, Equifax also provides scores using the VantageScore model and FICO model, as previously mentioned.

Do Lenders Look at TransUnion or Equifax?

If you’re trying to decide whether you want to look at your credit score through TransUnion or Equifax, your first question is likely, “Which bureau do lenders look at?” Lenders typically don’t look at one credit bureau over another, as many lenders will look at all three credit bureaus. However, some lenders might prefer one over another, depending on the lender.

Lenders look at both TransUnion and Equifax, depending on various factors. They’ll likely look at more than one credit bureau if more information is needed to determine an individual’s credit. However, most credit lenders will only look at FICO scores to determine an individual’s credit worthiness.

While there are usually no specific credit bureau lenders use, some credit bureaus are better depending on the vendor type.

The Ideal TransUnion Credit Score

TransUnion calculates its credit scores in a range from 300-850. On this scale, scores vary from “very poor” to “excellent.” The numerical range coincides with this in the following way:

  • Very Poor: 300-600
  • Poor: 601-657
  • Fair: 658-719
  • Good: 720-780
  • Excellent: 781-850

Therefore, the ideal TransUnion credit score is between 720 to 850.

The Ideal Equifax Credit Score

The ideal Equifax credit score is similar to TransUnion’s. 

An Equifax credit score considered ideal is between 660 and 850. The scores differ between TransUnion and Equifax because one starts at 300 and the other at 250, which considerably alters what’s considered ideal.

Here’s the rest of the numerical range of an Equifax credit score and what each range means for your credit score:

  • Poor: 280-559
  • Fair: 560-659
  • Good: 660-724
  • Very Good: 725-759
  • Excellent: 760-850

Final Thoughts

TransUnion and Equifax are both reputable credit bureaus and mainly offer the same services. Although they typically have the same information and will likely provide you with a similar credit score, they do have some differences. These include:

  • They calculate credit scores using different score models.
  • They can have varying information, depending on what was provided by lenders.
  • While TransUnion only provides a VantageScore credit score, Equifax provides both VantageScore and FICO scores.

Despite their differences, TransUnion and Equifax are two of the three major credit bureaus, and both will provide creditable credit scores.

Sources

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Mike Pearson


Mike is a recognized credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff. His credit advice has been featured in Investopedia, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Huffpost, The Simple Dollar, Reader's Digest, LendingTree, and Quickbooks. Read more.