If you can't tell the difference between a credit report and credit score, think back to your school days. The relationship between the pair is much like a report card is to a grade point average.
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Both tell how well you're doing in school. But one measures your performance with one number, while the other captures it with grades for each class. Think of your credit report and credit score the same way. A credit score estimates your creditworthiness with one numerical value, while your report shows how well you repay each of your debt obligations.
"Many people use the two terms interchangeably, which is improper because they're totally separate things," says John Ulzheimer, credit expert at Credit Sesame.
Understanding what each one is, how they are related and who uses which one will make you a savvier consumer and, possibly, a better borrower. Check out the chart to find out the key differences between a credit report and credit score before you fill out your next loan application.
Sources: Rod Griffin, director of public education at Experian Anthony Sprauve, spokesman for myFICO.com, the consumer education division of FICO John Ulzheimer, credit expert at Credit Sesame
Now that you know which is which, how do you find out who uses which one to determine your creditworthiness? Credit scores and credit reports are seen by more than just lenders. Employers, landlords and insurance companies also use one or both to evaluate consumers and help determine whether to do business with them. The following chart breaks down who sees what.
Sources: FICO; Experian; Federal Trade Commission; John Ulzheimer, credit expert at Credit Sesame
Copyright 2014, Bankrate Inc.