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Credit report 101

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.

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.

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.

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 financing deals and who has to make bigger deposits to get utilities.

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.



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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.


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