TransUnion vs. Equifax Credit Scores: Why The Difference?

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by Enoch Omololu

Updated

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If you routinely vet your credit report and track your credit scores from the two main credit bureaus (TransUnion and Equifax), you may have noticed that they can be a bit different.

Credit scores are a measure of your creditworthiness and are used by lenders to determine how much of a risk you pose when they lend you money.

If your credit score is poor, it means you are not good with other people’s money and you will either not qualify for credit or will be required to pay more in interest charges for credit.

Equifax and TransUnion have their custom in-house algorithms for calculating your credit score which may result in one score differing from the other.

In general, a good credit score in Canada is 650 and above. You can assess where you stand as per below:

  • 800 – 900: Excellent credit score
  • 720 – 799: Very good
  • 650 – 719: Good
  • 600 – 649: Fair
  • 300 – 599: Poor

I paid to view my credit score once in 2015 when we started thinking about buying a home and I wasn’t 100% sure what my credit looked like. Since then, I have viewed my score multiple times for FREE through Borrowell and Credit Karma.

These 2 companies provide monthly updates (both credit score and report) that make it easy to monitor my credit profile and prevent identity fraud or theft.

TransUnion vs. Equifax Canada

TransUnion Canada vs. Equifax Canada Credit Scores

Earlier, I mentioned that I signed up with Borrowell and Credit Karma to receive monthly updates of my credit score and report. Why did I sign up for both of them?

I did so because Borrowell gives me an Equifax credit score and report while Credit Karma supplies me with a TransUnion credit score and report.

The credit scores from these two main credit bureaus in Canada can be significantly different and I want to see both.

Why are the Credit Scores (TransUnion vs. Equifax) Different?

When I last checked my credit score, TransUnion scored me at 830 while my Equifax score was 802 – a difference of 28 points.

Their credit reports were similar other than that a recent credit card inquiry for my Triangle World Elite Mastercard was not reflected on my Equifax (Borrowell) credit report.

So why the difference?

1. Different Algorithms and Metrics

The algorithm used by Equifax and TransUnion is proprietary to each company and most likely different in how they compute your score.

Equifax makes use of the Equifax Risk Score while TransUnion uses the CreditVision Scoring model. Both range from 300 to 900 which is the credit score range in Canada.

Information available online shows that Equifax uses an 81-month credit history. On the other hand, TransUnion’s CreditVision Risk Score looks at data over the past 24 months.

2. Credit Reporting by Lenders

The information that credit bureaus use in computing your score is based on what lenders report to them. Some lenders only report to one credit bureau while some report to both.

For example, I have had my Triangle World MC for about 5 months already, but it is not showing up on my Equifax credit report.

The opening and closing of accounts is a factor that impacts and can lead to a difference in your score. Even if a lender reports to both credit bureaus, it may do so on different dates, potentially leading to discrepancies in your credit score.

While Equifax and TransUnion may apply different weightings to them, the most important factors determining your credit score are your:

  • Payment history
  • Credit utilization
  • Length of credit history
  • Mix of credit
  • Public records e.g. bankruptcy
  • Hard enquiries on your account

Read more about how your credit score is calculated.

How To Check Your Credit Score For FREE in Canada

If you want to obtain your credit score directly from TransUnion and/or Equifax, be prepared to pay around a $20 fee.

However, you don’t have to pay any money at all! Borrowell (Equifax), Credit Karma (TransUnion), and Mogo offer free and updated monthly credit scores to Canadians.

These companies make money (commissions) when you apply for a credit card or personal loan recommendations through their website.

The credit score service is absolutely free.

My experience with Credit Karma is similar, and you can simply unsubscribe from receiving email updates and log in to your account only when needed.

The monthly score updates make it easy to monitor your credit for any potential problems e.g. identity theft or fraud.

If you notice an odd drop in your credit score, you can quickly check your credit report to see whether someone opened a credit card in your name, or there has been a credit inquiry on your account that was initiated by you, for example.

Here’s how you can dispute errors on your credit report.

Credit bureaus are obligated to provide you with one free credit report per year upon request. If you’d rather obtain your credit report from them (sans the credit score), you can contact them as follows:

Equifax: Order by phone at 1-800-465-7166 or download the request from their website and mail it to National Consumer Relations, P.O.Box 190, Station Jean-Talon, Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2 or by fax to 514-355-8502.

TransUnion: Access a copy online or copy their form and mail to TransUnion Consumer Relations Dept., 3115 Harvester Road, Suite 201, Burlington Ontario ON L7L 3N8.

GET YOUR FREE CREDIT SCORE

Related Posts

TransUnion vs. Equifax FAQ

Why is TransUnion vs. Equifax credit score different?

This is mostly due to the different formulas (algorithms) used by the companies to compute your score. My TransUnion score started assessing my credit score as ‘excellent’ when I reached 800, whereas, for Equifax, I qualified for ‘excellent’ status since my score was around 760 or so.

What is a good credit score in Canada?

A score of 650+ appears to be the consensus for entry into the “good credit” category. A higher credit score will help you qualify for better terms when you borrow money.

What is the average credit score in Canada?

As per Equifax Canada, the average credit score in Canada is 692 which qualifies as ‘good.’

How can I increase my credit score?

Want to improve your credit score? Check out these 8 easy ways to raise your credit score fast.

What has been your experience comparing credit scores from the two main credit bureaus?

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Author

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Credit Canada, MSN Money, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

13 thoughts on “TransUnion vs. Equifax Credit Scores: Why The Difference?”

  1. [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “Pending Moderation”. Reason: Failed Bot Test (expired) *]
    Something is askew with the Transunion algorithm. I had scores above 700 for all three agencies but was denied credit. The reason was my Transunion score. I checked the score and found out that they had lowered my score by 50+ points compared to Equifax and Experian. I have seen my Transunion score fluctuate, always downward, for three consecutive months.
    Once I disputed an old account and in nano seconds Transunion replied and informed that the information was deleted. I did a follow-up and guess what; the old account information was still there with different dates and my score went down.

  2. Great article! I don’t understand why there are no laws for this. I don’t feel it’s normal to have more than one company offering credit scores, especially when they don’t use the same formula to calculate the score. It makes it unfair if you apply for credit and the company checks your score with only one company. What is that score is lower than with the other company. Seems unfair….

    • @Annie: I see your point, however, what you need from the different credit scores is an idea of where you stand. Generally, lenders will consider a few other factors when they assess your credit application in addition to your credit score. Also, lenders sometimes use a slightly different variation of your score, so there’s really no uniformity, unfortunately.

  3. Hi everyone, I’m new and just looking for some input on the difference between fairstone and easyfinacial. I have found my old info from a loan i did a few years ago with fairstone. I just want to understand why there is such a big difference in my monthly payments. I haven’t signed the papers yet for the easyfinacial loan, as i just need to know some info first and as much as i need this loan, i may have to decline it.

    My old loan – fairstone, 2000, paid about 130/mth to pay it back within 2yrs, and i did. My credit sore was under 600 at that time.

    My loan with easyfinacial is 2500 at a credit score of over 650 and it needs to be paid within 2yrs as well, but at 350$/mth. I’m just a little freaked out by this as I don’t understand why it should be that big of a difference, especially since my credit score is way better then it was 3yrs ago.

    I have tried to find info on the internet as to what the difference is between the 2 lender, but have not found anything. While looking I came across this site and here i am asking for any help from someone who knows more then me. I am 60yrs old, 3 teenagers till at home and going through a nightmare divorce, any constructive information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and help.

    • @Nanab:

      It is difficult to state the exact reasons for why your new Easy Financial loan has a much larger monthly repayment amount than your former Fairstone loan. My suspicion is that your credit score may have actually tanked further than before…

      $350 per month for two years for a 2-year $2500 loan is a lot in interest fees. Perhaps check out some of the lenders on this list below to see if you will have better luck. Note that when you get several hard inquiries on your credit file, it further damages your score:

      https://www.savvynewcanadians.com/best-credit-cards-bad-credit-canada/

  4. Do Borrowell and Cretit Karma also do credit alerts besides credit scores, which is much more important to me?I find this site very informative and helpful, Thanks

    • @Ann: I don’t think you get extra alerts other than the updates that tell you about changes to your credit score. You can also view credit activities on your account by looking through your credit report.

  5. Enoch, is it fair to say one is better than the other? The Transunion Credit Vision (TCV) score uses past 24 months but Equifax Risk Score uses 81 months seems 81 months would be better, but it may be 24 months is more immediate past and more about what is happening presently.

    Also, from the Marketplace special about scoring when you get your own score from Equifax or Transunion it represents a snapshot in time or today’s status of your score with no past history included. This then means the Personal vs. Business formats (like ERS, TCV) will be very different and why you cannot bring your personal report to a merchant and ask that they use it rather than order a business version. Seems unfair but I think we need to see all scores, right?

    • @JMD: It is a tough call to say whether one is better than the other. Depending on a person’s financial history, one score may favour them above the other. That said, the free scores you get may not fully reflect what a lender sees when they pull your credit file, so this may not even matter.

      I would also like to be able to view the scores that lenders have access to for free. I think that would make more sense and give a more accurate representation of where you stand when you are msubmitting a credit application.

  6. I signed up for the Borrowell credit score service after reading about it here on your site. My experience with Borrowell has been terrible. I have been bombarded daily with emails from them marketing all their products. Some days I have even received 2-3 emaild from Borrowell I do not appreciate the email overload. I tried unsubscribng without success. There is no phone contact available. I found a corporate email address for Borrowell and eventually was able to get them to unsubscribe me from their list.

    Mogo has been a much better experience for me. I only get 1-2 emails per month which is much more reasonable.

    I have not tried Credit Karma yet but will do so to see what TransUnion says about my credit rating.

    Thank you, Mr. Omololu for offering this blog. I came across your site last year when a link came up while searching for something else. Your writing is excellent, your information is sound and presented clearly, thoroughly and concisely. I appreciate that you keep the information on your articles and site updated as well. Thank you for your efforts in helping people learn and manage their finances wisely.

    • @DonnaB: Sorry to hear about your experience. Borrowell now updates your credit score every week and I think that has also resulted in them sending a lot more emails.

      Glad to hear you have found the blog useful and value your feedback. Cheers!

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