Your Equifax Credit Report

Credit Sesame

Wondering how to read your Equifax credit report, or why your Equifax report may look different than some of your others? Read on to find out more.

What is the Equifax Credit Report?

Few numbers will have the same impact on your financial life than your credit score will. While it may seem like a simple three-digit number, your credit score is actually anything but. Your credit score is a direct reflection of the information contained in your credit report — information on things like your payment history, late or missed payments, accounts that have gone into collections, your total outstanding debt, and more. But did you know that you actually have multiple versions of a credit report?

Each of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, have their own version of your credit report — and each can possibly contain different information. For the sake of this article, we’re going to explore your Equifax credit report.

Company profile: Equifax

Equifax collects and aggregates information on more than 800 million consumers — and more than 88 million businesses — all over the world. It was founded in 1899 and is headquartered in Atlanta, GA.

But Equifax is now more than just a credit reporting agency. In addition to its credit and demographic data services (that it sells business-to-business), Equifax also sells credit monitoring and fraud detection/prevention services directly to consumers. And, like all credit reporting agencies, Equifax is required by United States law to provide all consumers upon request with one credit report every year, at no charge.

With this in mind, let’s explore the importance of your Equifax credit report.

Why is your Equifax credit report important?

While your credit report may seem arbitrary, the information it contains, combined with your credit score, is actually more important than you may know. Your credit may be checked for a number of reasons, but here are a few of the most common:

  • Applying for a loan
  • Applying for a new apartment
  • Applying for a new job*
  • Purchasing a new car
  • Purchasing a new home

* There are states that are now prohibiting employers from checking prospective and current employees credit. For more information please visit our article on this topic.

What’s more, the information contained in your credit report can actually affect the outcome of each scenario above, so it’s important to stay on top of your credit reports to make sure that the information they contain is accurate and up-to-date.

If you’re unsure of your credit score, or have never checked your report, you’re not alone. Below you can see that roughly three quarters of 18 to 24 year olds were unaware of their credit score in 2017 and that almost half of 25 to 44 year olds were in the same situation.

Percentage of Americans Who Know Their Credit Scores

Age Groups & Awareness2015201620172018
Unaware of Credit Score (18 to 24 Years of Age)21%24%26%29%
Unaware of Credit Score (25 to 44 Years of Age)79%76%74%71%
Unaware of Credit Score (45 to 54 Years of Age)51%52%55%56%
Source: We surveyed 200 participants in each age group, total of 600 participants, were recorded on 9/25/18 the studies were completed and recorded.

When you know your credit score, you can make informed decisions about your financial future — as well as take steps to improve your score. With that understanding, let’s take a closer look at some of the details of your Equifax credit report.

All about your Equifax credit report

While the FICO Score is perhaps the most recognizable, the three main credit bureaus —Equifax, Experian and TransUnion— created a “more predictive scoring model” in 2006. It’s called the VantageScore model. A good VantageScore generally means you also have a good FICO, but the different items that make up your credit score (and the weight each of those items have on your score) are a bit different.

Using the VantageScore model, here are some of the factors that contribute to the calculation of your score:

  • Payment History. Your payment history is the single biggest factor that contributes to your score. Make all of your payments on time, every time, and you’re well on your way to a better score.
  • Length of Credit Use & Variance of Credit. The age of your credit history, as well as the variation in your credit, accounts for a portion of your credit score. Always keep your oldest accounts open and in good standing, and make sure your credit report reflects different types of credit (e.g., credit cards AND an auto loan).
  • Credit Utilization. Your credit utilization is another large factor that contributes to your credit score. Simply put, your credit utilization is the percentage of your total credit limit that you are currently using. You should always aim to keep this number below 30 percent.
  • New Credit Applications. Applying for too many lines of credit can make it appear to potential lenders as if you are in desperate need of funds — a big red flag. Keep the number of new credit applications to a minimum for the best score.
  • Credit Utilization. Your credit utilization is another large factor that contributes to your credit score. Simply put, your credit utilization is the percentage of your total credit limit that you are currently using. You should always aim to keep this number below 30 percent.
  • Balance. Lastly, your current credit balance also plays a part in your credit score. Keep the balances you carry as low as possible to see the best score.
  • Available Credit. While only contributing to a relatively small percentage of your credit score, the amount of credit you have available can make a difference. Keeping your credit utilization low ensures that your available credit will reflect positively.

Equifax took it one step further and merged FICO and VantageScore together to make its own “Beacon Score” model. As you can see from the chart below, each of these factors are weighted differently, although they closely resemble FICO versus VantageScore —meaning they each contribute to your score calculation in a different way. Payment history is clearly the most important at 35 percent, while your amount owed, length of credit history, types of credit, and new credit have a smaller impact.

Equifax (Beacon) score factors and weights

Payment History35%
Amounts Owed30%
Length of Credit History15%
Types of Credit10%
New Credit10%
Source:, accessed on November 2, 2018

So, now you know the factors that contribute to your score, but do you know what your score means? It’s one thing to know your score, but it’s another thing to know where that places you in the grand scheme of things. Let’s look now at the different score ranges for Equifax and how you can use that information to improve your score.

Scoring used by Equifax

Below are the credit score ranges that are generally attributed to Equifax scores. The scores range from 280 to 850. Those with a score between 560 and 659, for example, are generally considered to have “Fair” credit, while those with a score of 760 or above are considered to have “Excellent” credit.

Equifax Credit Score Range

Credit Score RankScore Perimeters
Poor Credit Score 280 to 559
Fair Credit Score560 to 659
Good Credit Score660 to 724
Very Good Credit Score725 to 759
Excellent Credit Score760 to 850
Lenders use the ranges above to determine a person’s creditworthiness. Lower credit scores result in higher interest rate payments, which none of us want. The good news is that almost everyone can raise their credit score with a little effort.

How do I raise my Equifax score?

The process to raise your Equifax score is the same as it is for all three credit bureaus. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Clean up your credit report. Before you do anything else, request a copy of your Equifax credit report. Examine everything in your report, looking in particular for any negative or inaccurate marks you can clean up.
  2. Pay down your balances. A big factor that contributes to your credit score is the balance that you owe, or the percent of your total credit you’re currently using. Paying down your balances can help you quickly see an improvement in your score.
  3. Increase your credit limits. If you’re not able to pay down your balances, increasing your credit limits can have a similar effect on your overall credit utilization — as long as you don’t add more to your balance.
  4. Make payments twice a month. Even if you pay off your balances in full each month, your credit card companies still only report data once a month — so this could still come back to hurt you. For instance, let’s say you have a $1,000 limit on a credit card that you use for bills — hitting your limit each month and then paying it off in full. There’s a chance your credit card company will report that you have a $1,000 limit AND a $1,000 balance — which translates to a 100 percent credit utilization. Making a mid-month payment will help prevent this.
  5. Become an authorized user. If none of the above tips are working, or you aren’t able to implement them, don’t despair. Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account (with more established credit) can lend you instant credibility.

But don’t just take our word for it. We spoke to Credit Sesame member, Sira, to find out how she was able to raise her credit score more than 120 points in just 2 years. Here’s what she had to say:

Free credit score
Credit score range
Credit repair
What's a credit score
Whats the highest credit score
What is an excellent credit score

Sira improved her 562 credit score to 688 in 2 years

Member Since: 7/08/2015

We interviewed Sira on May 18, 2018; he earns $58,000 a year, is 42 years old and lives in Wichita, Kans. She is married and owns a house with her husband.
How were you able to raise your Equifax credit score?
I was irresponsible with credit when I was younger. I used credit cards to buy fast food, take trips across the country I couldn’t afford, and buy things I didn’t need. A few years ago, I got a serious promotion with an even more serious wage increase.

My boss (who’s also my mentor) suggested I pull my Equifax credit score and pay down my debt. I didn’t realize that all three agencies; Equifax, Experian, and Transunion received different information at times. I was able to pay down the debts of my youth and raise my Equifax credit score.
What was your score previously?
My score was really low when I started paying attention to it, 562.
How long did it take for you to see a difference?
Improving my credit score was easy because I had a chunk of money from my promotion to pay off my debts and decrease my credit card utilization to less than 25 percent. I saw my credit score rise 20 points within a few weeks.
Sira’s story is a great reminder to all of us that it’s important to check your report and to stay aware of your credit score. While not everyone will have a large sum of money to pay down debts, here are some other strategies that can work.

Benefits of learning about your Equifax report

There are a number of benefits to learning about your Equifax credit report, as well as regularly checking your credit report and credit score. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 credit reports contain errors, which could lead to a number of possible negative consequences:

  • Lower credit score
  • Higher interest rates
  • Being denied a loan
  • Being denied a credit card
  • Being turned down for an apartment
  • Being turned down for a job

As you can see by the data below, there is a definite advantage to regularly monitoring your credit. Regardless of age or generation, those who monitor their credit have higher scores than those who don’t.

Credit monitoring by generation

GenerationMonitored Credit 2016Unobserved
Credit 2016
Monitored Credit 2017Unobserved Credit 2017
Generation Z645627655631
Generation X670656682662
Baby Boomers703685713690
The Silent Generation725705729703
Source: Credit Sesame surveyed 1500 individuals randomly selected to take the survey. The study was conducted in January of 2018 over a duration of three weeks.

TLDR; what’s in the Equifax credit report?

To recap, your Equifax credit report is a reflection of the consumer data gathered on you by consumer reporting giant, Equifax. Scores range from 280 to 850, and there are a number of factors that contribute to your score, including your payment history, credit utilization, balances owed, length of credit use, number of new applications, and more.

If your score isn’t where you want it to be, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score. Simply follow these steps and make sound credit decisions, and with time, you will see your score steadily improve.

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved.
Published February 6, 2019 Updated: April 30, 2019
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