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What is a credit report? How can it help me monitor my credit?
Your credit report shows information about you and your history with credit. It includes your accounts, payment history and sometimes negative marks such as collections, if you have them. That information has a powerful impact on your finances — and your credit score — so it’s important to be sure the data is correct and up to date. You can dispute errors and ask for them to be removed by the credit bureau or creditor responsible for the data. (And we’ve got you covered if you’re not sure how to read your credit report.)
Checking your credit report also helps you watch for signs of identity theft or fraud. To help you stay on top of things, NerdWallet will alert you to changes on your TransUnion free credit report so you can monitor your credit efficiently.
What is the difference between a credit score and a credit report?Your credit reports are files that hold information about how you used credit in the past. There are three major credit bureaus that hold your credit files: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
The data in your credit reports is used to calculate a simple number representing your creditworthiness — a credit score. The two types of credit scores most commonly used in credit decisions are the FICO score and its competitor, VantageScore®. NerdWallet partners with TransUnion® to present your credit report and a VantageScore® 3.0.
You can have multiple credit scores — a score based on information from each of the credit bureaus, as well as specialty scores for products such as cars and credit cards. Learn more about the difference between credit scores and credit reports.
Get your free credit score too
NerdWallet also provides your free credit score, so you can track how your actions help you build credit.
Your credit dashboard explains how you’re doing on the factors that make up your credit score. Insights and tips point out ways to keep building.
Best of all: Checking your own credit score or report does not hurt your credit score.
Why is a credit report important? Why is my credit score important?Your credit report matters because it’s your credit history — your track record with handling borrowed money. The data in your credit reports is used to create your credit scores.
Your credit history and scores influence whether you can get a credit card or loan, and the interest rates you pay. Insurers may use your credit information to set premiums and landlords may use credit data in choosing renters. Credit scores also determine who gets the best cell phone plans and who has to make bigger deposits to get utilities.
What if I find errors in my credit report, or see outdated information?The data on credit reports comes from creditors, and you can correct errors either by contacting the specific creditor or the credit bureau it reported to.
Look for the “Dispute with TransUnion” link on your NerdWallet credit dashboard and also on your credit report display. That connects you with the TransUnion® website, where you can initiate a dispute about information on your TransUnion® credit report from NerdWallet.
It’s wise to check your other credit reports to see if the error or outdated info is there, too. Learn more about how to file a dispute with a credit bureau or creditor.
Credit report resources
How long does it take to restore your credit?Credit missteps happen. You can restore your credit, but how quickly depends on what's holding your score down and what credit score range you’re in.
If you have a low credit score, you’re better positioned to bounce back than someone with a good credit score. You may be able to add as many as 100 points through positive credit habits like paying on time or using less of your available credit.
Although late payments, bankruptcies and other negative marks stay on your credit reports for years, they stop affecting your credit score much sooner than that, within months.
Errors on your credit reports are one common reason your score could have fallen. Disputing a big mistake in your report has the potential to add points quickly.
When should I dispute credit report information?It’s worth disputing items on your credit reports when there are big errors hurting your score or information that indicates your identity has been stolen.
Errors worth disputing include a payment mistakenly reported late when you have proof you paid on time, wrong account information, negative marks that are too old to still show up on your reports, accounts you don’t recognize or addresses you’ve never lived at.
It’s typically not worth the time to dispute small mistakes such as a misspelled employer name or old phone number; those don’t affect your credit and the credit bureaus are not required to investigate “frivolous” claims.
How long do credit report disputes take?All three credit bureaus have an online dispute process, which is usually the quickest way to fix a problem. You can also write a letter or call. (You may not be able to complete your dispute over the phone.) Once you file a dispute, the bureaus have to investigate it and then tell you the outcome in writing. Under most circumstances, the bureaus have to respond within 30 days.
FAQs about your free credit report
How does NerdWallet get my free credit report and score?
NerdWallet partners with TransUnion® to provide your TransUnion® credit report. Using the data in your credit report, it also provides your VantageScore® 3.0 credit score. Your score and credit report information are updated weekly. Note that lenders may make their approval decisions using a different credit scoring model or data source.
Where does the data on my free credit report come from?Several sources may report your credit activity to the credit bureaus: lenders and credit card issuers; debt collectors; public records (such as bankruptcies); and sometimes landlords. NerdWallet checks weekly for updates on your TransUnion report.
You can also request free credit reports directly from the three major credit bureaus by using AnnualCreditReport.com. There may be limits on how often you can request them, and these reports don't include a credit score. Data is typically updated monthly.
Is my free credit report really free?Yes! Sign in to NerdWallet whenever you like to see your free credit report information, your free credit score — and much more. Monitor your cash flow, view your net worth and see upcoming payments, all on one convenient dashboard.
How do I order my free credit report from NerdWallet? How long does it take?Just sign up for a NerdWallet account using any of the green "Get my free credit report" buttons on this page. You’ll be asked to provide information needed to match you with the correct TransUnion® credit report, such as your full name, birthdate and Social Security number. Next you may be presented with a series of authentication questions as part of the credit score activation process.
Once you provide that data and verify your identity, you’ll have access to your TransUnion® credit report. Go to your Credit Score dashboard and scroll down to click on “See your full credit report.” You’ll also have an opportunity to connect your financial accounts so you can use NerdWallet’s full suite of dashboards, including Net Worth, to see and manage your money.
If you run into any issues with activation, check out our help center articles.
What is included in my credit report from NerdWallet?You’ll find a summary of your open credit accounts, showing the balance and payment status most recently reported to TransUnion®. Click on an account for an expanded view that shows things like your credit limit, type of account and a look at your payment history — plus details such as creditor contact info.
You’ll also see a list of closed accounts, a list of inquiries (“credit pulls”) and any public records in your name. Public records include items like repossessions, foreclosures and bankruptcies.