How To Read Your Credit Report

Check your credit history for accuracy

Credit Report
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Your credit report contains a wealth of information about your financial history and actions. If you have credit or loan accounts, those accounts and how you pay them, are included in your credit report. It’s important to review your credit report at least once a year so you know what your creditors are saying about you.

Understanding your credit report can be confusing, especially if you’re reading your credit report for the first time. Here is a breakdown of the types of information contained in your report.

Personal Information on Your Credit Report

The personal information included in your report is used to identify you. It contains basic information like your name, address, and place of employment. Previous addresses and employment might also be included.

It’s not uncommon to have variations or misspellings of your name. Most credit reporting agencies leave these variations to maintain the link between your identity and credit information.


Having different variations of your name and old addresses won't hurt your credit score as long as it's actually your information. Check this section to make sure personal information is identifying you and not someone else. 

Your Credit Summary

The credit summary section of your credit report summarizes information about the different types of accounts you have. This section lists the total number of accounts you have along with the balance. It also lists the number of current and delinquent accounts.

It will include the following account types:

  • Real Estate Accounts: Any mortgages that you have.
  • Revolving Accounts: Any credit cards and lines of credit.
  • Installment AccountsAny loans not related to real estate purchases, such as car or education loans.
  • Other Accounts: Any miscellaneous accounts that don't fall into the other categories.
  • Collection Accounts: Any accounts that have been sent to collections.

Your credit summary will also summarize the number of accounts you have open, closed, and the number of inquiries made against your credit within the past two years.

Your Account History

The account history section of your credit report contains the bulk of the information. This section includes each of your credit accounts and details about how you've paid.

Your account history will be very detailed, but it's important that you read through it to make sure the information is being reported correctly.

Each account will contain several pieces of information:

  • Creditor name of the institution reporting the information.
  • Account number associated with the account. The account number may be scrambled or shortened for privacy purposes.
  • Account type, i.e. a revolving account, education loan, auto loan.
  • Responsibility. This indicates whether you have an individual, joint, or authorized user responsible for the account.
  • Monthly payment is the minimum amount you are required to pay on the account each month.
  • Date opened, or the month and year the account was established.
  • Date reported is the last date the creditor updated the account information with the credit bureau.
  • Balance, or the amount owed on the account at the time data was reported.
  • Credit limit or loan amount.
  • High balance or high credit is the highest amount ever charged on the credit card. For installment loans, high credit is the original loan amount.
  • Past due lists amounts past due at the time the data was reported.
  • Remarks are comments made by the creditor about your account.
  • Payment status indicates the status of the account, i.e. current, past due, charge-off. Even if your account is current, it might contain information about previous delinquencies.
  • Payment history shows your monthly payment status since the time your account was established.

Collection accounts may appear as part of the account history or in a separate section. Where it appears depends on the company providing your credit report.

Public Records

Bankruptcy is the only type of public record that can appear on your credit report. Depending on the type of bankruptcy, the record may stay on your credit report for 7-10 years.

Credit Inquiries

Credit inquiries list all parties who have accessed your credit report within the past two years. While your version of the credit report lists several credit inquiries, not all of these appear on the lenders' and creditors' versions.

  • Only "hard" inquiries are shown to lenders. These are inquiries made when a lender checks your credit report to approve your credit application.
  • Your version will also include "soft" inquiries consisting of inquiries made by lenders for promotional purposes.
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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fair Isaac Corporation. "What's In Your Credit Report?"

  2. Experian. "Experian Sample Credit Report."

  3. Experian. "How to Update Your Credit Report With New Personal Information."

  4. Experian. "Public Records That Can Appear in Your Credit Report."

  5. Equifax. "Understanding Hard Inquiries on Your Credit Report."

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