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Equifax vs TransUnion – Which is Better?

04/02/2019 @ 7:03 am

Everyone who’s seen their credit report, like when shopping for a bad credit car loan in Oshawa, has noticed there’s something different between what they see in their Equifax and TransUnion information.

They might not be able to clearly state what the differences were, but they most definitely could tell the two credit bureaus weren’t the same. Considering how much power these bureaus have over our ability to access credit and good interest rates, it’s a good idea to know what the differences are between them.

The inevitable question is which is the better option?

You don’t always get to choose when applying for credit, but it’s nice to know if you must deal with one, which it should be. We take a close look at what similarities these credit bureaus share, plus the factors which make them different.

What’s the Difference?

In Canada, there are two major credit bureaus: Equifax and TransUnion. It’s fair to wonder what the differences, if any, are between them. After all, so much of what you want to do in life can be affected and maybe even decided by your credit history and score.

When you borrow money, such as for a bad credit car loan in Oshawa dealerships, the lender usually reports if you make payments on time, are late, or altogether miss payments. That report goes to Equifax, TransUnion, or often both. That information is then in turn presented to anyone who pulls your credit, which helps to paint a picture of how you are financially.

Which credit bureau will come out on top?

In other words, you are judged on the reports from Equifax and TransUnion. As you can imagine, knowing what these two credit bureaus are all about is a key component of properly managing your finances.


Funny enough, we often throw around the term “credit bureaus” without really understanding what it means. By getting a good handle on the word, you’ll be able to better grasp what the differences are between Equifax and Transunion.

You might have heard that the credit bureaus are government entities, or that they’re non-profit institutions. Those are both incorrect. Each bureau is a for-profit organization or a business. They evolved over time as a way for creditors to better determine which people wanting to borrow money are a better financial risk.

Back in the day, people in most communities knew who was reputable and who had a reputation for not paying debts. Shop owners and other merchants just knew not to extend credit to certain individuals, and that’s how things were done.

As towns grew into cities, businesses and banks created lists of people not to lend to. Any business could purchase that list to avoid extending credit to consumers who likely wouldn’t pay the money back. Cities grew even more, people started moving, and soon this system had to evolve. Companies which tracked consumers and rated them on the likelihood they would repay debts cropped up. Over time, those companies combined, until today we have several such services. Equifax and TransUnion are the two biggest credit bureaus in Canada, so you most likely will deal with one or both when applying to get something like a bad credit car loan in Oshawa.

From the time you first start using credit, these two credit bureaus are gathering information on who you are as well as how you conduct yourself financially. Businesses and lenders pay a fee to access that information, which they then use to decide if you qualify for a loan, and if so under what conditions.

Numerous factors, which are explained just below, combine in your credit history with each bureau. That might seem scary, but if you know what the credit bureaus gather and what they don’t, it’s not so bad. Through a mathematical formula, which uses the different items in that report, your credit score is then calculated. Many lenders use that score as a gauge of just how risky it is to lend money to you for the purchase of a car, home, etc.

Credit Factors

Whether you’re talking about Equifax or Transunion, your credit score is affected by the different items contained in your credit history with each credit bureau. These items impact your ability to do certain things, like getting a bad credit car loan in Oshawa, so knowing what they are is a smart idea.

If you really want to know more, it’s an excellent idea to pull your credit report from Equifax and TransUnion. It provides a real-world example and allows you to not be surprised by what potential creditors are seeing when you apply for a loan.

Payment History

How often you pay on time, are late, or miss payments on loans is a big part of your credit score. Each month, most of your creditors will send this information to one or both of the credit bureaus. If you’re paying on time, this is a good way to build up positive credit, which in turn inflates your score. Late payments and missed payments obviously damage your credit score, which is why you should do everything to avoid those situations. Lenders figure the way you’ve managed loan payments in the past is a good indicator of how you’ll deal with credit extended to you in the future.

Of course, the more recent items in your payment history have a bigger impact on your credit score. That means if you had a rough patch a few years ago because of an unexpected emergency, such as job loss or a bad accident, any problems with paying loans have a diminishing effect on your credit score. Of course, it helps if you have recent positive payment history. We as people can change our habits, so the credit bureaus pay closer attention to what you’re doing at the moment, which is why establishing positive credit right now will help boost your score. This is where a bad credit car loan for Oshawa residents can come into play.

Paying on past loans is a good way to help your score with either bureau.

Also included in payment history are any collections. These are accounts creditors have closed because of delinquencies and are actively trying to get the full balance paid by you. It’s best to speak with your creditors if you can’t make a payment, because a collection is something you don’t want to see on your credit report.


These are times when someone has done what’s called a “hard pull” on your credit. This is usually because you’ve applied for credit and the potential lender wants to see what’s on your report. The lender will look at the items on your report, including the number of inquiries, and make a decision on whether or not to approve you for a loan.

If you have few inquiries, or there are several made in a short period of time for a major purchase like a car or house, that doesn’t affect your credit score too much if at all. Lenders look at a constant stream of inquiries as a sign you’re trying to abuse credit or that you’re in serious financial trouble.

Credit Mix

How many credit accounts you have and what kind they are is another factor in your credit file. If you have too many lines of credit, that can be a problem. It’s best to have a balance between revolving and installment accounts.


How old your credit accounts are has an impact as well. Creditors figure the longer you’ve had something like a credit card, that’s a sign you can properly manage the responsibility for the long haul. Too many newer credit accounts shows you’re an unproven risk, making lenders a little weary of how you’ll manage credit in the long run.


Creditors are also interested in how much of the credit that’s been extended to you has been used. This only applies to revolving lines, like credit cards. In general, you want to keep your usage to 35 percent or less on each account, otherwise it can hurt your credit score.

Different Scores

If Equifax and TransUnion look at these same factors when calculating your credit score, why are the results different? When you pull your scores from these two bureaus, they normally are off by at least a small margin.

That can be frustrating if you feel like one credit bureau is hurting your chances of getting approved for a loan. It’s easy to automatically assume the one service which gives you a higher credit score is better, but that’s not necessarily the case.

There are a few reasons why your credit file isn’t the same between Equifax and TransUnion.

Reporting Differences

Not all creditors report to both bureaus. Exactly why this is will vary from one creditor to the next, but just know that your on-time payments or even a collection might only show up on your Equifax or TransUnion report and not the other.

Because the bureaus might be dealing with some differences in their files, that alone will result in dissimilar scores. But wait, there’s more.


When it comes to how different credit accounts are recorded, there’s a big difference between Equifax and TransUnion.

All your credit accounts on a TransUnion report are all put in the same category. Equifax does things differently, separating the past accounts which have been closed with those which are currently open.

By separating accounts which are active with those that are now closed, Equifax is providing a more complete picture of your current credit usage and standing. This doesn’t mean Equifax does things correctly and TransUnion doesn’t. However, this difference will impact how creditors look at you as a potential risk, depending on which credit bureau they reference

For example, if you have an old credit card which you closed three years ago, versus one that you use currently, those two cards are weighted the same. If you look at an Equifax report, the old card which is closed has less bearing on your credit score than card you’re using right now.

Employment History

Another big difference between these two credit bureaus is the increased emphasis by TransUnion on your employment history. While this information certainly is included on your Equifax credit report, TransUnion takes things to the next level.

What TransUnion includes as far as your employment goes beyond just what your current profession is, a piece of information you usually have to disclose when applying for just about any credit account.

TransUnion includes more detailed information about your employment history.

You’ll also find on a TransUnion credit report your job title and the date you started in that position. Your previous employer is usually listed as well. With this more extensive information, banks will often reference a TransUnion report to verify the employment details you’ve supplied with a loan application.

Different Scores

If you’re ever pulled your credit scores from Equifax and TransUnion, you might have been surprised to see different scores. The gap between them might have been small or fairly significant, or it could be slight.

After reading everything above, you have a better sense for why the scores don’t match each other. The two credit bureaus don’t have all the same information from creditors about what credit accounts you have, how you’ve been about payments, and so forth.

There are a couple of critical differences beyond what has been outlined so far.

To start off, the mathematical equation used to calculate your credit score isn’t necessarily the same between Equifax and TransUnion. That means even if the data used by both bureaus were the same, which it isn’t, your scores likely will still vary by at least a little. That probably won’t mean too much when getting a bad credit car loan in Oshawa or trying to access most other forms of credit.

Most people don’t realize Equifax and TransUnion provide different credit scores and reports for different purposes. Some are used for getting a car loan, others are for landlords screening tenants, and so forth. What you can access through credit monitoring services are educational credit scores, which are yet another kind.

Ultimately, Equifax isn’t better than TransUnion and vice versa. They’re just different ways to showing creditors how you handle credit. As long as you understand that, you should be able to better manage your own finances.


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