Which Credit Scoring Company is the Best?
Updated: November 24, 2023 Author: Paul Gillooly
Quick answer: Although their scoring scales differ, the credit scoring companies offer the same thing. Lenders generally use two credit scoring companies when making a borrowing decision.
- 75% of lenders use Experian
- 55% of lenders use Equifax
- 30% of lenders use Transunion
Credit scoring companies or credit reference agencies are for-profit establishments that assimilate information about your credit history. The lenders get this data in the form of a credit report and a credit score, which helps them determine the debt eligibility of an individual.
The information held by credit score companies includes records about all financial transactions involving the borrower, such as credit card spending and payment, personal loan and mortgage repayment, and bank account debit and credit transactions.
In the UK, there are four credit score agencies. While no one can be called the best, they have varying market shares. Also, these agencies keep details about all interactions connected to financial transactions involving collection agencies, lenders, service providers and even the government.
The history: Experian is now a credit score company with a global presence. It came into being through the amalgamation of Credit Data Corporation and TRW Inc. in 1968. Subsequently, TRW sold the combined entity known as Experian to Great Universal Stores Limited or GUS.
In 2006, right before being listed on the London Stock Exchange, Experian was demerged from GUS. The Manchester based-retail conglomerate merged Experian into its credit recording business, CCN. Today, it continues to enjoy a stellar standing in the UK.
Market reach: The Company currently holds the credit records of over 1 billion consumers worldwide. It offers information to high street lenders, car loan businesses, mobile phone service providers, and major retailers.
Information used by Experian: In terms of the data held, Experian is no different from the other credit score companies. So, in addition to details about debts and their repayment, Experian has information about CCJs, types of loans taken by the consumer and individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs).
An Experian credit score: Experian updates its monthly database and uses the same mathematical equation to calculate the credit score as the other credit reference companies. So, every item in the credit report is weighted differently. Together these form your credit score, with the actual amount of debt and how timely the repayments played the most prominent role in the calculation.
Experian scoring range: This CRA rates your credit history on a scale of 0-999 and considers a score of 881+ as good and 721-880 as average or fair.
The history: In the late 1800s, two brothers started collecting information about consumers who were good payers, laying the foundation of Equifax in the process. So, considering when it began, Equifax is undoubtedly the oldest of the four credit score agencies.
The brothers quickly discovered the list’s usefulness and sold it to other retailers. By 1913, they had turned the operation into a business unto itself called Retail Credit Company.
Foray into the UK Market: In the late 1970s, Equifax entered the UK market and started using electronic data to compile customer credit reports. Equifax nearly captured the UK market through that decade to become one of the most widely recognised credit reference companies. By the early 1990s, lenders worldwide recognised the company as one of the most reliable and foremost credit score companies.
Market reach: At this time, Equifax holds the credit reports of nearly 800 million individuals and 88 million businesses worldwide.
Information used by Equifax: In addition to regular details about consumers, Equifax also has information on the number of enquiries made on a credit record. Each query reflects on your credit history for two years. Also, the credit report has public records such as bankruptcies and county court judgements (CCJs). However, your credit record needs to have information about balances on your bank accounts.
The Equifax credit score: All the compiled information is used to calculate a score. Each item in the report is weighted differently, and then a mathematical formula is applied to the weighted values of all financial transactions in the credit record to arrive at the credit score.
Like all other credit reference companies, Equifax also places greater emphasis on the dynamic aspects of debt, such as the payment history and the actual amount owed, instead of non-dynamic factors, such as new credit types and the duration of the credit history.
Equifax scoring range: Their credit score range is 0-1000, and they consider 811-1000 Excellent, 671-810 as good and 531-670 as fair.
The history: In 1968, TransUnion was a holding company for the railway equipment manufacturing and leasing firm Union Tank Car Company. It started its journey into the credit reporting market in 1969 after it acquired the Cook County Credit Bureau, which held the credit records of more than 3.6 million creditors. Since then, TransUnion has changed hands thrice, ending up with Hank Asher’s TLO.
Foray into the UK Market: TransUnion’s acquisition of Callcredit gave it a foothold in the UK market in 2018. Callcredit was then an up-and-coming credit bureau, one of the fastest growing, but a mere two years old at its acquisition. So, TransUnion is a relatively new player in the UK credit score market.
Market reach: Currently, TransUnion holds the credit records of well over one billion individual consumers and roughly 65,000 businesses.
Information used by TransUnion: As far as credit-related information goes, TransUnion uses the same data that other credit reference agencies use to arrive at the credit score. However, their database is updated almost immediately regarding any extraordinary occurrence that could impact the consumer’s ability to handle and repay existing or future debts. So, lenders don’t have to wait a month to find out about defaults on a consumer’s records if they use TransUnion.
The TransUnion credit score: TransUnion uses a proprietary scoring system known as “Guage” to calculate the credit score. The system calculates the credit score using the weighted percentage equation for various credit-related details.
The information they use includes repayment history, loan types, credit searches, total debt and length of credit history.
TransUnion scoring range: The agency scores you from 0-710 and considers 628-710 excellent, 604 to 627 as good and 566-603 as fair.
The history: The newest player in the market and hence, one with the lowest market share, Crediva received its FCA authorisation in 2017. So, most major and traditional lenders are yet to include Crediva in their list of credit score companies.
Market reach: At this time, Crediva only serves the UK market.
Information used by Crediva: Unlike the other credit reporting agencies, credit history is just one of the factors that Crediva considers when arriving at consumer credit scores.
The Crediva credit: The agency uses alternative credit scoring models that provide a better understanding of credit risks.
Which credit reference agency should you use?
The important thing to understand here is that your credit score is bound to differ in actual numerical value from one credit agency to the other. But, the three major players offer the same gist through their scores.
Also, the scores differ because not all lenders report to every credit score agency. For instance, over 75% of lenders use Experian, while roughly 55% use Equifax. TransUnion has the lowest market share of 30%, while Crediva is probably in the single digits.
Lenders typically use two credit score companies, leaving room for some blind spots. For example, suppose you have secured debt from a lender that only uses TransUnion. In all likelihood, the records of your debt repayment on this loan will not reflect in your Experian or Equifax report.
Moreover, suppose your original contract with the lender did not authorise the establishment to share your credit information with a credit reporting agency. In that case, this data will not be a part of your credit report. But this is only possible with really old credit card debts and loans.
Having said that, if you checked your credit score from just one credit reference agency, it might be best to opt for Experian. Another way is to check your current or potential lender’s score from the agency.