can you ONLY look at one of my credit scores?

One of my credit scores is higher, will a bank a use that one?

For those that have received a copy of their credit report, it’s confusing to see three different numbers. The three credit giants Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion show different scores, though usually pretty close.  Still, to a consumer this is strange, and makes you wonder, why is one of my credit scores higher?

If Equifax is showing a score 15 points higher than the other two, a consumer’s hope is their potential lender is looking at that one. In a perfect world we could waltz in and say “use this report please” – but the truth is, the consumer has no bearing on which bureau a given lender uses.

While you may not be able to influence which one a lender will use, it’s good to understand why there’s multiple.

Why do I have multiple credit scores?

There’s a few reasons. Creditors may report information to different bureaus at different times, causing your score to fluctuate. Apart from this, their calculation of the credit score is based on their own unique formula, with minor differences between the three.

Another reason might be that your creditors have not reported to all three bureaus. A creditor doesn’t have to report to all three agencies, they have the choice to report to one or more. In addition, some reporting agencies are not as strict on hard credit checks, which can affect your overall score as well.

Having noticed these differences in the credit scores by the agencies, the question is:

Can you choose a lender that uses the credit agency reporting your credit highest?

At Experian, a consumer’s credit history is aggregated as a report. This report shows the total debt, types of accounts, number of late payments, age of account, etc. These credit reports are used by businesses such as banks, automotive dealers, healthcare providers, and retailers to help determine credit worthiness.

When making a purchase, banks are seeking to buy your loan based on your credit. Lenders like banks and credit card companies will look at your credit file when they calculate your credit score. This allows them to assess the level of risk involved in lending you credit.

Your credit score has a great impact on your chances of getting:

  • Credit cards, loans, and mortgages
  • Car financing
  • Gas & electricity monthly payments
  • Mobile phone contracts
  • Insurance monthly payments
  • Property rentals

To qualify for a loan, it all depends on the borrower’s credit history. The lender assesses the borrower’s credit report, which provides the names of other lenders extending credit, and types of credit that are extended. In addition to the repayment history of the borrower and more.

The report also helps the lender to determine if the borrower is comfortable managing payments based on current income. Experian helps in providing the credit score based on the borrower’s credit history. With their unique formula to assess the credit report, Experian generates the best possible credit score using the details provided by the creditors.

In other cases when applying for a secured loan like an auto loan or a home equity line of credit, the borrower assures collateral funds. An evaluation will be made of the collateral credits, and the existing debt secured by the collateral is subtracted from its value. The remaining equity affects the lending decision.

If your score is high with Experian, can you find a lender that strictly uses Experian to pull credit?

Experian plays a key role in the financial world by providing ratings on the creditworthiness of customers. These ratings are invaluable tools for assessment and review of their lending decisions. Therefore, when assessing the level of risk associated with a credit, lenders will typically look at its credit rating.

Since most banks are looking for a trade-off between risk and return on their investments, they are going to demand a higher interest rate for bonds that have poorer credit ratings. As a result, rating agencies play a vital role in setting interest rates on debt securities. Though credit rating agencies don’t offer a consistent rating formula and scale, the credit histories of customers are rated accurately. If you find a discrepancy on how the same debt is reported across different reports, address it right away.

Back to the original question: No, you can’t necessarily “seek” out a lender that uses Experian exclusively. But, you can have relative confidence that the lender is viewing all three scores. If your TransUnion report is showing a 650, while Experian is showing a 668, this difference is not likely to change the lenders mind. Remember, it’s not just the score, there’s many factors that go into the decision to extend credit.


Credit agencies have played a significant role in the financial community. Throughout their existence, they have helped investors identify levels of risk; else, the investing community would be guessing as it tried to determine risk levels and appropriate interest rates.

The differences in your three reports are not likely to have a major impact on your lenders decision. Most are looking at a combination of these reports to get a full picture of your credit situation. Remember, the lenders know not all agencies report all debts. It’s in their best interest to check all of them for a full scope of the borrowers personal financial situation.

As always, if you or someone you know is struggling with overwhelming credit card or other unsecured debt, we can help you.


Your partner in debt relief,
Consumer First Financial