TransUnion vs Equifax: Different Credit Scores Explained

TransUnion and Equifax are two of the most popular credit bureaus in Canada, and more and more people are seeking out their services as they go to apply for mortgages, loans, condo rentals, and more.

However, there is something that confuses many Canadians.

If you’ve ever requested a credit report from both companies, you may have already noticed that TransUnion and Equifax can often give you different credit scores – and sometimes, these differences can be rather large.

While we naturally want to present the one with the higher credit score to lenders and landlords, we often still wonder: which one is the correct one?

Well, the short answer is, no credit scoring agency is considered ‘better’ than the other.

Each one has its own proprietary method of calculation, which explains why they might expel different credit scores.

If you want to learn more, keep reading as we explain what information each credit bureau considers in their calculations, and what your best options are if you’re looking for a credit report.

TransUnion vs. Equifax: Different Scores Explained

There are a few factors to consider when calculating your credit score.

Each credit bureau will consider similar factors, but they may weigh them differently.

Some of these factors could include your payment history, your credit usage and length of your credit history, and the types of credit you hold.

There’s no exact answer for why you may get different scores between TransUnion and Equifax, but we can give some possible reasons.

Consider the following:

1. Different Credit-Scoring Models

Each credit agency uses their own proprietary models.

Within those models, they may weigh each factor differently, which could cause discrepancies with your credit score. 

2. Different Information Received

Lenders don’t necessarily report all the information they have to each of the credit bureaus – some may only report it to one of them.

Therefore, it’s very possible that both credit reference agencies have differing personal/financial information about you, which could impact your credit score.

3. Different Dates Used

Credit scores vary with time and new information may impact your score for the better or for the worse.

So, consider the dates used by each credit reference agency when they calculated your credit score.

If they differ, even by a small amount of time, it can have an impact on your credit score.

Did You Know?

Until 2009, a third credit bureau, Experian, also offered consumer credit reports in Canada.

Credit Score Reporting Options for Canadians

As Canadians, we have quite a few options when it comes to finding out our credit score.

Of those options, you can either go directly through the credit bureaus themselves (meaning through Equifax or TransUnion) or through a financial technology company like Borrowell or Credit Karma.

Borrowell and Credit Karma both offer very similar services, are both easy to use and extremely informative, especially if you’re looking for more long-term support when it comes to improving your credit health.

The biggest difference is the credit bureaus they partner with – Borrowell works with Equifax, while Credit Karma works with TransUnion. 

Credit report on desk

Borrowell

Borrowell was founded in Toronto in 2014 and was the first company to offer Canadians free access to their credit scores, updated
on a weekly basis to help you track and monitor your credit score over time.

They work directly with Equifax, so you’ll get that score and report, as well as plenty of personalized product recommendations tailored to your needs.

Credit Karma

With Credit Karma, you can also check your credit score for free, in addition to getting free personalized credit and loan offers and recommendations based on that score.

In Canada, they work with TransUnion and therefore will have a different score vs what Borrowell shows you.

Directly from Equifax or TransUnion

You can also forego a middleman and go straight to the credit reporters themselves if all you need is your credit scores and
reports, without all the other features.

With Equifax, you can request your credit score and report either online by signing up easily, over the phone by calling 1 (800) 465-7166 or by mailing
this completed document
to:

Equifax Canada Co.
National Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 190
Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2

You can also order it in person by bringing two pieces of government-issued ID (minimum one of which is photo ID) and proof of your current address to either the Toronto, Halifax or Charlottetown office.

For more information, click here.

To receive your credit report from TransUnion, you can do it through one of 3 ways: you can apply online, over the phone by calling 1(800) 663-9980 or by mailing this completed document with a photocopy of both sides of two pieces of ID to:

TransUnion Consumer Relations Department
3115 Harvester Road,
Suite 201 Burlington ON L7N 3N8

You can also order it in person by bringing two pieces of ID (minimum one of which is government-issued and both of which have your name, DOB, current address and signature) and proof of your current address to one of TransUnion’s provincial offices.

Do Lenders Look at Equifax or TransUnion?

There isn’t a standard to which all lenders refer to when it comes to the provider of the credit report.

Neither Equifax nor TransUnion should be considered better or more reliable than the other. 

However, some lenders do have their preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is TransUnion more important than Equifax?
  • Why are TransUnion and Equifax scores so different?

Tara Al-Khudairi is a freelance personal finance writer who has worked in the financial services industry since 2017. She graduated from McMaster University with a degree in Finance and is pursuing her CFA.

She has worked at a major Canadian financial institution in various client-facing advisory roles, starting as a bank teller and working up to a Client Services Associate within the Asset Management division. She specializes in simplifying concepts of personal finance for people of various financial backgrounds.

When she’s not examining the markets looking for the next SHOP.TO, she’s either practicing yoga, planning her next vacation, or has her nose buried deep in a book.