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Q: I always thought that credit score and credit report were interchangeable terms, but a friend told me they’re different. What is the difference between them?
A: A credit score and a credit report are related. They both have to do with how responsible you have been with your credit, and both affect whether banks or other companies will loan to you or give you a credit card. They are also correlated, meaning that if one changes, the other will too.
The difference is that a credit report is a list of all of your debts and related information, while a credit score is just a number. Your credit score is determined based on the information in your credit report, while the credit report will give a lot more detail about that number. Some companies are just interested in the number, but most want to see why the number is high or low. Do they have medical debts, or did they max out their cards? Do they have any bankruptcies on their record?
Credit reports can also be obtained for free, while you will often have to pay for credit scores, especially the kind that lenders use: FICO scores. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, with 850 being a perfect score. Your credit report, on the other hand, will contain information such as the type of accounts you have open, the amount you owe, your credit limit, what amount, if any, is past due, and any bankruptcies or accounts that were written off because of nonpayment.