Every time you apply for a credit card, make a mortgage payment, or default on a loan, the credit bureaus make a note of the activity in your credit report. Other lenders and creditors can access the data on this report to make future lending decisions. Of course, you can access it, as well.
What's in a Number?
Your credit report contains your credit score. This number reflects your financial history and lets lenders know whether you exhibit financial responsibility. While some lenders consider only your credit score, others delve deeper into the data found in your overall credit report.
Your History at a Glance
Do you pay your bills on time? How much money do you owe? Have any of your accounts been referred to a collection agency? Your credit report answers all of these questions.
Depending on the reporting institution, a credit report organizes information chronologically or by category. On each account, you'll see the original amount of credit extended, the balance owed, the number of on-time and late payments, and other detailed data.
Recognizing the Gatekeepers
Numerous institutions maintain credit reports on consumers. Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax make up the three major credit reporting agencies, but they aren't the only game in town.
Several specialty consumer reporting agencies keep credit reports related to a specific purpose or industry. For example, an apartment complex might generate a special credit report for prospective tenants. The report only lists information that a landlord would find useful in deciding whether or not to offer a lease.
Your credit report is an essential document to obtain and understand. Keep track of your credit history and sign up for Mint to gain access to powerful financial resources.