The three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) are responsible for providing credit reports, scores, and other information to consumers and businesses. For individuals, the credit bureaus are a way to check your credit score and see what is on your credit report. Each credit bureau calculates the information that goes into credit scores differently. A tri-merge of data from all three reporting agencies is the best way to get a broader look at the overall credit picture, and it’s also beneficial to compare the different credit reports.
Deciding which credit bureau is best will come down to an individual’s preferences and reasons for accessing the credit bureau information. Many people find Experian’s credit reports to be the most readable, while Equifax has a more visually dynamic format. TransUnion has had some complaints in the past, but recently launched a new credit monitoring program that provides information from all three credit bureaus. Small business owners will find a lot to choose from on all three credit bureaus in the areas of lead generation and direct marketing.
Pros: TransUnion offers consumer education tools, small business data management, and identity theft protection, among other services. Like the other credit bureaus, they now offer a way to dispute inquiries, mistakes, or outdated listings on a credit report. Additional services include fraud alert and TransUnion Plus money manager, a budgeting and savings tool.
Cons: TransUnion has 228 complaints on ConsumerAffairs.com, and according to the site ranks a 1.3 on the 5 star scale. Much of this is likely due to the problems and low popularity that all credit bureaus face. However, some complaints specified that TransUnion was the only credit bureau to have multiple mistakes on their credit report. TranUnion has been trying to revamp its efforts and provide new financial management and credit access to rebuild consumer confidence.
Pros: Experian offers a customized experience for personal and business purposes, with multiple programs involving personal credit and customized mailing lists for businesses. Experian’s credit reporting tools provide easy to read, detailed financial histories and data. Online dispute reporting and credit monitoring are two other components of Experian’s consumer friendly website.
Cons: Experian has 592 complaints and a 1.2 rating on ConsumerAffairs.com, which is more than TransUnion. However, many thousands of complaints are filed each year against all of the credit bureaus due to problems that are commonly associated with the industry. There are several complaints of customers who asked for their annual free credit report and were unknowingly signed up for unwanted monthly services.
Pros: Equifax offers a crisp looking website with an interactive menu. They offer customer education, business data solutions, and credit monitoring just like the other bureaus. There’s a link to their 2011 annual report on the homepage which contains interesting data on consumer spending and debt. Equifax offers a tri-merge package with all three credit scores and profiles, which is part of their overall credit monitoring and ID protection plan.
Cons: With 507 complaints on ConsumerAffairs.com, Equifax seems to have the same types of complaints that all three bureaus receive regularly. Complaints included unwanted services charged, lengthy customer service waits, and problems disputing errors.
Which Credit Bureau is Best?
When determining which credit bureau is best for personal or business reasons, it helps to evaluate each website and sift through the similar yet different offerings. Due to the proprietary formula each credit bureau uses to calculate their data, there can be differences in credit scores or items on reports that may require getting all three credit reports to compare. The individual services, strengths, and business data offerings of each credit bureau will help you decide based on personal preference, as the main credit reporting services are offered in different ways by the three bureaus.