Whenever you apply for a new credit card or a loan, banks and lenders first look at your credit score and credit report. This helps them in ascertaining your creditworthiness and whether you are capable of repaying the credit on time and in full. Therefore, looking after your credit and ensuring that it stays in good shape at all times is a good financial practice. This is especially needed while working towards a good credit score.
Banks and lenders assess your financial health by checking your credit score and credit report. People often use these two terms interchangeably. However, both are different from each other and provide unique insights into how well one is managing credit.
If you are looking to find out the difference between credit score and credit report, here is all the information you need.
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a 3 digit numerical representation of a borrower’s creditworthiness. It usually ranges from 300 to 850. A credit score between 700 and 750 is considered good by most lenders. A credit score above 750 is exceptional and preferred by most lenders. Credit scores are calculated and assigned for every individual or business entity that has used any kind of credit. Credit scores are calculated by credit bureaus who get the supporting data from banks and lenders in the country.
A credit score provides a glimpse of a borrower’s creditworthiness and is used by all kinds of lenders, such as credit card providers, mortgage lenders, etc. The score may change depending on one’s borrowing activity.
How is credit score calculated?
A credit score is based on one’s loan repayment track record and history of credit card payments for the past three years. A 3-digit credit score is also called CIBIL score. The higher the credit score (nearing 900), the better are one’s chances of easily securing a loan or credit at reasonable interest rates. Those who have a good credit score can also avail higher credit limits, less paper-work, and quick loan processing.
A credit score is calculated with the help of the information listed in one’s credit report. Some of the factors used in its calculation are:
- History of repayments, including delayed payments or defaults on loans/credit cards
- Credit utilisation ratio
- Hard enquiries for additional credit
- Credit history or age
- Types of credit being used
Every borrower must ensure to check their credit score periodically to have a fair idea about their credit profile and how it will be viewed by a prospective lender. This is especially important for those who are looking to build credit.
What is a credit report?
A detailed look at a credit user’s financial history can be sought from a credit report. A credit report contains a comprehensive list of all repayment details and lines of credit used. This comprehensive document usually contains details like:
- Credit score
- Personal information, including name, date of birth, gender
- Identification numbers such as PAN, passport number
- Contact information – address and phone number
- Income details
- Any credit enquiries
- Public information on bankruptcies, foreclosures, repossessions, judgements on civil suits, etc.
A credit report also contains information on loan accounts. It shows which credit facilities have been availed by the credit user, loan amount, lender details, date of account opening, last payment date, outstanding balance of credit availed, etc. There are generally two kinds of credit reports:
- Credit Information Report (CIR) for individuals
- CCR (Company Credit Report) for businesses
The 4 major credit bureaus in India that generate credit reports and calculate credit scores are TransUnion Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited or CIBIL, Experian, CRIF Highmark and Equifax.
Both credit score and credit history are interdependent as both help in establishing a credit user’s creditworthiness. Here are some of the points that help us understand the relationship:
- The information contained within a credit score and a credit report may be different, however, both serve the same purpose as both act as reliable sources for information and data sets on creditworthiness of the borrower.
- The credit score is usually a part of a credit report. By looking at both these, a lender can gauge the interest and principal repayment capability of borrowers.
- Credit rating tells lenders about the probability of recovering the total debt owed, including principal and interest, from the borrower.
When banks and lenders receive loan or credit applications from individuals or businesses, without a credit score and a credit report, they may be taking a risk while sanctioning the same.
Without credit rating agencies, banks and lenders cannot assess a borrower’s credibility or rely on the independently collected information. Once they have a credit rating and a detailed credit report, lenders can safely take the decision of extending or rejecting a credit request.
In a nutshell, a credit report acts as a reflection of one’s borrowing history and the credit score is a summary of the same. Both these, although unique, are interlinked to each other as both take into account a borrower’s credit history.
A great credit report means a credit score too. On the other hand, negative instances such as loan repayment defaults, bankruptcies, etc are considered as red flags and can lead to a poor credit score and therefore a bad credit report.
To improve your credit score quickly and by substantial points, you must be consistent and regular in your debt repayments. Ensuring a low credit utilisation ratio can also help in improving credit score over time.
In general, credit score improvement may take one or two months to improve once outstanding debt has been paid off in full.
Most banks and lenders look at the credit score and credit report of a credit card or loan applicant before extending credit. Both credit score and credit report are based on one’s credit history. Thus, credit history is important if one wants to have easy access to credit in India.
CIBIL is the credit bureau that calculates credit scores of borrowers. It is one of the oldest and established credit agencies in India. Credit score, on the other hand, is an indication of a borrower’s creditworthiness.
Credit score can be checked on any of the credit bureau websites. It can also be checked for free on many other reliable websites that focus on credit ratings of borrowers.