What is an Experian credit report?
May 4, 2023 8 min read
A credit report is a document that provides a detailed look at your credit history and financial habits. It shows whether you’ve been consistent and on time with monthly payments on your bills and outstanding debts. It can also show negative information, like bankruptcies, foreclosures or repossessions.
These reports are used to calculate credit scores and help companies determine your creditworthiness—or how likely you are to repay your debts on time. And credit reports can be important when it comes to understanding the full picture of your financial well-being.
One of the most frequently used credit reports comes from Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus. Read on to learn more about Experian credit reports and what you need to know while looking at yours.
- Experian credit reports contain personal information like your name, address and Social Security number (SSN); details about your credit and collections accounts; and records of recent soft and hard inquiries.
- By checking your Experian credit report on a regular basis, you can have a better sense of what aspects of your financial life might be causing fluctuations in your credit score.
- Monitoring your credit can also alert you to any inaccurate information being reported or possible identity theft attempts.
- Experian makes it easy to freeze and unfreeze access to your credit reports and to dispute any errors you may find—and all of this can be done for free on their website.
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion: What’s the difference?
None of these credit bureaus are considered more important or authoritative than the others. But it’s important to be aware that some information might differ between the credit reports produced by each of these companies. This is because not all lenders report a borrower’s credit information to all three bureaus. And not all lenders check with all three bureaus to verify a consumer’s creditworthiness. So the data one credit bureau has to work with while building a credit report can be different from what another credit bureau uses.
What’s on your Experian credit report?
As you read through your credit report from Experian, you can expect to find the following details:
The personal information found on your Experian credit report can include names and addresses associated with your credit, SSN variations, your birth year and any phone numbers you have. It can also include the names of co-signers on loans or lines of credit, the names of your current or former employers, and personal statements like credit freezes or fraud alerts.
The accounts section of your Experian credit report can include revolving credit accounts and installment loans, your payment history on those accounts, and up to two years of your reported monthly balances on the accounts. Keep in mind that what exactly appears on your report may depend on the method you choose to access it.
And remember: Lenders aren’t always required to report account information to the major credit bureaus—so not all of your accounts may appear on your Experian credit report.
In your Experian credit report, the collections section can include account information about the type of collections taking place and your payment information for those collections. It can also include any personal or creditor notes and collector contact information.
Public records for bankruptcies
The public records section of your Experian credit report may include the name of the court where your bankruptcy was filed, the record type, filing and status dates, and reference numbers.
It may also include any personal statements that have been made to express your disagreement with the outcome of any previous legal disputes. These can be written from scratch, or you can choose to use a pre-written statement.
This section details who has looked at your credit report—known as a credit inquiry or credit check. When a credit report is checked, the credit bureau will log that check as either a hard or soft inquiry.
Soft credit inquiries don’t affect credit scores and include checking your own credit report or receiving a pre-approval offer from a credit card company. They can stay on your report for up to two years and are visible only to you—not lenders.
Hard inquiries happen when you apply for credit or a service like phone, cable or internet. A hard inquiry can impact your credit scores and stay on your report for up to two years.
How your Experian credit report can help you
Your Experian credit report also contains detailed information about the factors that might be influencing your credit scores—like payment history, credit history length, credit mix, amount of debt and amount of new credit. Monitoring your credit can also help ensure that all of your information is accurate.
How to get a free Experian credit report
You can get free copies of your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
Monitor your credit with CreditWise from Capital One
CreditWise from Capital One is another great way to monitor your credit. CreditWise gives you access to your TransUnion credit report and helps you discover key factors that impact your VantageScore 3.0 credit score. And it can also give you alerts from two of the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion and Experian, when there are important changes to your credit reports.
CreditWise is free and available to everyone—even if you’re not a Capital One account holder.
Who can see your Experian credit report?
Not just anyone can request a copy of your credit report from Experian. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) places firm restrictions on who is able to see your credit report and the reasons they can give for needing access to it.
If you’re applying for insurance, a loan or a line of credit, your provider or lender may request a copy of your credit report. This is also the case if you’re applying for housing, utilities or a new job.
However, if someone makes a request to access your Experian report that isn’t supported by one of these reasons or one of the more specific instances listed in the FCRA—getting subpoenaed or having to pay child support, for example—they can’t access your information.
How to freeze and unfreeze your Experian credit report
To do this through Experian, you simply sign up for a free account on their website. Then, you can place a freeze that will limit access to your credit file. You can also set up alerts to be notified if and when your freeze status changes.
You can also schedule a “thaw” and unfreeze your credit at any time through your account.
How to dispute errors in an Experian credit report
If you come across errors in your personal information when monitoring your credit report, it’s important to know how to report and dispute them.
Experian has an online dispute center where consumers can submit information and documentation to highlight inaccuracies on their credit report for free. These disputes can be submitted virtually, but they can also be sent in by mail or over the phone.
FAQs about Experian credit reports
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about credit reports from Experian.
What is a good Experian credit score?
Here’s a breakdown of each of their credit score ranges:
Based on these scoring models, Experian says that they generally consider a credit score of 700 or above to be “good,” but they acknowledge that some lenders may establish their own definitions for what they consider to be a good credit score.
Is Experian legitimate?
Yes. Along with TransUnion and Equifax, Experian is recognized by financial institutions around the world as a safe, authoritative and trustworthy credit reporting agency.
What is Experian Boost?
Experian Boost is a service offered by Experian that can help you boost your credit score by establishing a positive credit history out of your consistent on-time payments on rent, utilities and other monthly expenses. It’s free, and it can help those with little or no credit see a potential increase in their FICO score.
If you’re looking for other ways to boost or build your credit, Capital One offers fair and building credit cards that can help you to achieve your credit goals with responsible use.
In a nutshell: Experian credit reports
When it comes to building financial literacy and gaining a better understanding of your own financial standing, it can be helpful to request a copy of each of your credit reports—including Experian’s. You can make sure all of your information is current and accurate. And if you find that your credit could use some improvement, you can identify the areas that need the most work and establish a plan to get yourself back on track.