What is a tradeline?
July 12, 2022 6 min read
Every industry has its own terminology. That’s certainly true of the credit industry. One important credit-related term to know—and one that may help you better understand your credit reports—is “tradeline.”
Keep reading on to learn what exactly tradelines are, how they work and their effect on your credit scores.
- Tradelines represent things such as credit accounts, loans and collections on credit reports.
- There are nuances in how credit bureaus display tradelines.
- Tradelines and credit reports directly affect credit scores.
- Tradelines can also be used to judge things such as credit applications.
What are tradelines on your credit reports?
Tradeline, or trade line, is the term used to refer to accounts listed on your credit reports. Two common types that show up on your personal credit reports include:
- Revolving credit: Open-ended credit accounts—such as credit cards and other lines of credit—that can be used and paid down repeatedly within the credit limit as long as the account remains open and timely payments are made. For example, if you have two credit card accounts, they should show up as separate tradelines.
- Installment credit: Include closed-ended credit accounts that you pay back over a set period of time. Auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, student loans and “buy now, pay later” loans are all examples of installment credit.
Debts sold to collection agencies may also show up on credit reports as separate tradelines.
The information you see on your credit reports directly impacts your credit scores. And when you apply for credit, lenders may review your credit scores and tradelines on your credit reports when making decisions.
How do tradelines work?
Understanding how tradelines work can be the first step in helping you improve your credit scores.
What information is included in a tradeline?
Credit tradelines display a variety of data. Each tradeline on a credit report typically includes account information such as the following:
- Name and address of the creditor or lender.
- Partial account number.
- Type of account.
- Date the account was opened.
- Date the account was closed—if it has been closed.
- Date of the account’s most recent activity.
- Current balance.
- Credit limit or original loan amount.
- Status, whether the account is current or delinquent.
- Payment history.
- Minimum monthly payment.
- Account responsibility—whether you own the account or are an authorized user.
It’s worth noting that the three major credit bureaus—Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®—handle their reports differently. So one bureau’s credit reports might have information that differs from another bureau’s. That’s because some lenders may not report to all three bureaus.
What are tradelines used for?
Tradelines are a key part of your credit history. And credit-scoring companies such as FICO® and VantageScore® use the information in your tradelines—and your full credit profile—to calculate your credit scores. Information contained in your tradelines, including payment history and length of credit history, are taken into account when your overall credit score is calculated.
Tradelines are a helpful reference for anyone looking to understand their credit.
Keep in mind that credit-scoring companies have multiple credit scoring models for calculating scores. That means your scores from FICO and VantageScore, for example, might not be exactly the same—and that’s not uncommon. Scores can differ based on what information was used, when your score was calculated and what scoring model was used. And lenders may use different scores when judging loan or credit applications.
Authorized user tradelines
Becoming an authorized user is one way people can establish or build credit. But that’s only if the activity on the account and the authorized user are reported to credit bureaus.
For instance, some young people can be added to a family member’s account. When the account is used responsibly, the activity can help the authorized user build credit. But it’s important to remember that negative information could also be reported.
What happens if you're removed from an account?
If you’re removed from an account—you’re no longer an authorized user on a credit card account, for example—you might assume that the account’s tradeline will no longer appear on your credit reports. But that isn’t necessarily the case.
Whether an account’s tradeline appears on your credit reports after you’re removed from the account depends on the policy of the creditor or lender. It also depends on the policy of the credit bureau doing the reporting.
How do tradelines affect credit scores?
How exactly your tradelines affect your credit scores depends on your full credit profile. Some of the factors that affect your credit scores include:
- Payment history: how well you’ve done with making payments on time.
- Debt: how much unpaid debt you currently have across all of your accounts.
- Credit age: how long you’ve had your accounts open.
- Credit mix: the different types of credit accounts you have.
Positive information that indicates creditworthiness—such as a history of making on-time payments and a healthy credit utilization ratio—can help improve your credit scores. But negative information—including late credit card payments, charge-offs and bankruptcies—can negatively impact your credit.
Remember: One bureau’s credit reports might have information that differs from another’s. And credit-scoring companies have their own credit-scoring models that are used to calculate your scores.
So how your tradelines affect your credit scores doesn’t depend only on the information associated with your tradelines. It depends on your full credit profile as well as the report being used and the company doing the scoring.
How long do tradelines stay on your credit reports?
Just how long a tradeline stays on your credit reports might depend on some of the account information associated with the tradeline.
Negative information may fall off your reports at different times. Late payments and charge-offs, for example, can generally stay on your reports for up to seven years. Bankruptcies could stay on your credit reports for up to 10 years.
Tradelines in a nutshell
Being in good standing with creditors can help keep your interest rates low and improve your chances of getting approved for loans, mortgages and credit cards.
By monitoring your credit, you can give yourself a solid idea of where you stand. To make sure all the information in your credit reports is accurate, it’s important to check them regularly.
Monitor your credit for free with CreditWise
Monitoring your credit reports and credit scores is always a good idea. And if you regularly monitor your credit, it can help you stay on top of your tradelines and see how they might be affecting your credit.
You can also get free copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 to learn more.
Another way to monitor your credit is with CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise gives you free access to your TransUnion credit report and weekly VantageScore 3.0 credit score—without hurting your score. CreditWise is free and available to everyone—whether or not you have a Capital One account.