I must admit, I’m a terrible personal finance blogger because had never checked my credit score until a few months ago. Knowing your credit score is part of being able to manage your money in Canada. I remember knowing my credit score when I first applied for a mortgage a few years ago but never checked it again because I always thought that it cost money to check your credit score. Enter Transunion vs Equifax, they helped changed my personal finance life! In this post I will explain the difference between Transunion vs Equifax, and why are my Transunion and Equifax scores so different?
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Last Updated January 2023
I also didn’t know there were two different credit bureaus (Equifax and Transunion) and I didn’t know there was a difference between the scores! So recently, I checked both my Equifax and Transunion scores.
There was a big difference between Transunion and Equifax.
I have always wondered why there was a difference between Transunion and Equifax scores.
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Why are Transunion and Equifax Scores so Different?
What’s the difference between Equifax and Transunion credit bureau scores and why is there such a large difference?
Well, let’s have a look at my own credit scores for Equifax and Transunion to have a peek and see the actual difference between the two scores. The difference in numbers may shock you (it sure did for me, haha).
As a refresher, here’s the different categories, above 800+ is an excellent credit score and anything above 650 in Canada is considered a good credit score.
- 800 – 900: Excellent
- 720 – 799: Very good
- 650 – 719: Good
- 600 – 649: Fair
- 300 – 599: Poor
To check both my Equifax and Transunion scores, I signed up for both Credit Karma and Borrowell. They are a free credit reporting website. To sign up with both these resources, it is free. They make it free to check your credit score by providing recommendations and credit card referrals for commissions..
Here’s what is considered a good credit score is in Canada.
Here’s my Transunion Score from Credit Karma:
My Credit Karma credit score is 821, in the excellent range. As you can see from October to December, my credit karma credit score got hit by a few points because I applied for a new credit card recently (as you can see there’s a drop from 860-ish to 821).
To compare, here’s my Equifax credit score from Borrowell:
My Borrowell credit score is 734. As you can see, there’s a large difference between the two scores of Equifax and Transunion. My credit karma score was 821 and my Equifax score was 734.
Why is my Equifax score lower than Transunion?
That’s like almost 100 point difference between Transunion and Equifax!
The difference between my personal Transunion and Equifax credit scores varies from an EXCELLENT credit score with Transunion to a just a mediocre GOOD credit score from Equifax!!
What gives? That’s a huge difference, right? We’re not just talking a ten to fifteen credit score difference.
Equifax vs Transunion Canada
So why is there a big difference between the Transunion vs Equifax scores?
Once you get over the shock factor comparing the two different credit scores, you may wonder why there is such a big difference between the Equifax and Transunion numbers. There are many reasons why the numbers between Equifax and Transunion may differ so much.
One of which is that they use different algorithms to calculate your credit score. Even then with the different algorithms, the variance between the two scores should be between 7-10% or even less. Therefore, there are other reasons why the numbers between Equifax and Transunion are different.
According to Pocket Sense, Equifax separates your credit inquiries to open and closed referrals. The closed inquiries will be less important and therefore they will affect the algorithm less so than the open inquiries.
The results will be weighted.
Equifax also uses an 81-month history instead 7 years to calculate the score. These are some of the reasons why there is such a big difference between Transunion vs Equifax scores.
Which Credit Score is Used by Most Lenders?
Credit agencies have a different credit bureau of choice. The above reasons aren’t just the only reasons why there’s such a discrepancy between the Equifax and Transunion scores, which Borrowell and Credit Karma use, respectively.
Another more major reason that Equifax and Transunion may have very drastically different numbers is that credit agencies (e.g. credit card companies, banks etc.) have a different credit bureau of choice.
Not every credit agency uses Equifax and not every credit agency uses Transunion.
Is Equifax more important than Transunion? Transunion or Equifax, which is better?
Well, it depends.
Canadian KM’s (a great travel hacking resource, by the way) breaks down in a handy chart which credit bureau gets used when you apply for a new credit card. For example, did you know that American Express uses Transunion and CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) uses Equifax?
I sure didn’t!
Who uses Equifax? Here are some credit cards that use Equifax:
- TD Bank
Since the banks seem to have either Equifax or Transunion equally split, it makes sense to keep track of which credit cards you open if you’re wary of it affecting your Transunion score too much.
For example, Rogers Bank (for example their World Elite mastercard), MBNA, Tangerine, and American Express all use Transunion.
Which Credit Score Matters More Transunion or Equifax?
Is TransUnion more important than Equifax? I wouldn’t say so. Same question goes for is Equifax more important than Transunion.
Which credit score matters more Transunion or Equifax?
Since they can vary so much, if you’re applying for credit sometime soon (e.g. for a mortgage or something big like that), you might wonder if knowing but your Transunion vs Equifax score is necessary or would it be considered overkill. Personally, it would be good to know both your Equifax and Transunion score.
So to answer the question, Transunion or Equifax which is better…
At least you should check both Transunion and Equifax credit reports periodically, in case you need to check with the particular credit card bureau to fix something between the landlord and tenant. For me, I check about every 6 months or more frequently, when I apply for a new credit card (as mentioned, for my travel hacking attempts).
If you’re not applying for credit any time soon, it’s still nice to know because knowing your credit score is like a vanity metric LOL. This is somewhat reminiscent of the days when you want to get as high a grade as possible in school, right?
Getting an 800+ credit score is not hard to do and it’s nice to have.
It’s also good to check your credit score for both credit bureaus because when you close a credit card that you have applied for recently (e.g. after getting the first year free) you will want to double check and make sure the account is closed. This happened recently to me.
For example, I THOUGHT I closed my Scotiabank American Express credit card a few months ago and when I checked my credit score and report, I saw in my credit report that it was still open. I accidentally closed another credit card by accident.
I had to make sure I didn’t get charged an annual fee because my credit card was still open. Thankfully I was able to cancel my American Express card in time, and all this is because I checked my credit score and report from Borrowell.
Had I not done that I would be charged $120.
Where Can you Check your Equifax and Transunion Credit Score?
As mentioned in a previous post, checking both your Equifax and Transunion score is a good idea, especially if you’re applying for credit in the near future. These options are both free now, they didn’t used to be.
In my post about whether the credit score gets lowered when you check your credit, I list other options or places to check your credit score for free, such as through the big bank online banking portals.
To check your Equifax credit score, you can check it for free using Borrowell.
Personally, I don’t find these ‘suggestions’ annoying as I tend to just unsubscribe from their emails anyways and just check my score as needed on an occasional basis (instead of monthly like sometimes they encourage you to do).
Related Post: Borrowell vs Credit Karma: Which One is Better?
Borrowell Refer a Friend
Right now Borrowell has a new bonus (May 2020), Borrowell is offering users a $5 referral if you refer a friend to Borrowell. This is awesome since it’s free to sign up for Borrowell.
You can get a $5 Starbucks or Amazon.ca gift card when your friend successfully signs up.
Does Checking Your Credit Score Lower It?
When I recently applied for another credit card to replace my MBNA World Elite Mastercard, my credit score went down by about 20 points. This is called a hard inquiry. If I applied for multiple credit cards within a short duration, my credit score would have likely gone down lower.
When I check my credit score (I have done this twice so far since signing up with Credit Karma), it does not affect my credit score. This is called a soft inquiry. Another example of a soft pull is when you get the ‘you are pre-authorized for a so-and-so credit card, apply now!”
To me, it is a vanity metric (just like Banana Republic sizing) and doesn’t matter too much to me since I am not borrowing money any time soon (it did matter a bit when I was renewing my mortgage though!).
It was down to about the 700’s at the end of 2017, but I had just applied for another credit card. It doesn’t mean anything though unless you are trying to borrow money.
You could have a ton of student loans and a mortgage, and a HELOC and still have an excellent credit score.
As long as you are paying off your debt and paying off your credit cards, you will have a good credit score.
What Affects Your Credit Score in Canada?
A picture speaks a thousand words. I found this lovely ‘infogram’ by Borrowell that details the break down of what affects your credit score in Canada.
Your credit score is affected by your credit mix, credit inquiries (hard inquiries), your credit history (how regularly you pay your bills and if you carry a minimum balance), payment history (how long you have been paying your bills), and credit utilization (how MUCH of your available loan do you use- for example, if you have a $10,000 limit on your credit card bill and you regularly have a bill of $9500, this will affect your credit score negatively).
Credit utilization is a huge deal. My credit score markedly decreased when I had our huge property tax bills waiting to be paid off from one of our credit cards. Then I actually got denied credit card aplications.
You don’t have to worry that signing up for a new chequing account to get $300 cash affecting your credit score- unless it is a credit union, there are no hard pulls.
How to Check your Credit Score: A Summary
There we go, hopefully, this helps explain why there’s a difference between the Equifax and Transunion credit scores and why you may want to check both of these scores to monitor the health of your credit scores on a periodic basis.
Here’s a recap of why there is a difference between your Transunion and Equifax credit scores:
- There are different algorithms that the credit bureaus Transunion and Equifax use
- Equifax separates your credit inquiries to open and closed referrals
- The credit score most used by lenders is a difficult answer because credit agencies use different credit bureaus. Which is more accurate Transunion or Equifax? Actually, Transunion is not more important than Equifax
- Knowing both Transunion and Equifax scores is beneficial
- You can check your credit scores for free with Borrowell (Equifax) and Credit Karma (Transunion).
As mentioned, I think it is great to do a periodic check up of your personal finance health, especially if you’re thinking of applying for credit any time soon (like a mortgage, car financing, a business loan, or other important borrowing needs).
You want to have an excellent credit score to buy a house and an excellent credit score to buy a car.
The last thing you want is to be denied a loan because your credit score isn’t up to par.
To get your free Equifax credit score, I like to use Borrowell.
To get your free Transunion score, I like to use Credit Karma.
Readers, do you check your credit score with both Equifax vs Transunion?
If so, have you found a large discrepancy between Transunion vs Equifax?
How often do you check your credit score?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.