Experian and Equifax are the two largest credit bureaus in the U.S. They each offer different services and features, so it is wise to compare them. Users of these agencies should remember that not all lenders report to both of these companies. It is possible to have a debt showing on one without it appearing on the other.
Let’s take a look at how they stack up to each other.
More companies use Experian for credit reporting than use Equifax. This alone does not make Experian better, but it does indicate that debt is more likely to appear on Experian. It also means that to get the full picture of the credit history of a loan applicant, lenders would need to access both credit reporting agencies.
Calculating Credit Ratings
Even when Experian and Equifax have the same information, a person’s credit score can be wildly different. It is possible to have a poor score with one agency and an excellent score with the other. There is no indication that either of these companies gives more “poor” or “excellent” scores than the other.
What accounts for the difference it that Equifax relies on the Fair Isaacs Company (FICO) and Experian makes calculations based on the Vantage Plus method. FICO gives a score from 300 to 850, and Vantage scores are from 501 to 990. Each is based on a different algorithm for calculations.
Lenders don’t rely exclusively on the agencies’ scores, however. They use their accounts to get details on a person or a company, and review credit events using their own metrics. While it is true that some small lenders or credit card companies may rely more heavily on the overall credit rating, large lenders tend to do their own analysis. In addition, many lenders use both credit reporting agencies.
The two agencies offer different types of reports.
This agency lists accounts in groupings of “open” or “closed.” This makes it easy to see current versus old credit matters. In addition, Equifax provides an 81-month credit history.
Experian indicates how much longer any given account will remain on the credit history. It also lists the monthly balance history for each account. Experian has a slight edge over Equifax because it tends to track recent credit searches more thoroughly.
Both of these agencies provide the following:
1. Personal data. This includes name, birth date, address, and employer.
2. Account summaries. These summaries contain information regarding loans, as reported by creditors.
3. Public records. The agencies list any judgments against an individual, as well as bankruptcies and IVAs (involuntary arrangements).
4. Previous credit checks. Equifax and Experian keep a list of all of the credit applications that have been made.
Equifax Security Breach
The 2017 breach of data security at Equifax was significant, and that could lead some to conclude that Experian is safer. But that may not be the case. (See also: Equifax CEO Retires In Wake of Massive Data Breach.)
Both agencies rely on Apache Struts, a web-development software. Every website built with this software must be rebuilt in order to get rid of the vulnerability that caused the Equifax breach. So while the major break hit Equifax first, concerns about security at Experian remain.
The Bottom Line
The popularity of Experian among lenders makes it more universal, but Equifax provides some essential information its competitor does not. The difference in credit scores at both agencies can be a concern. If one agency provides a particularly low score on an account, no one should assume that this is due to minor differences in how they report. Some creditors may not have reported to both agencies, or one may simply have inaccurate information.
A person may add a note to credit reports explaining unusual circumstances and clarifying issues. Lenders may consider this when analyzing creditworthiness. Both Equifax and Experian allow these notes to be added.