Financial consumers may not know it, but financial institutions often rely on “bundled” credit reports to make more fully informed decisions before lending individual money.
That process is known as a tri-merge credit report (also known as a three-in-one credit report.)
What Is a Tri-Merge Credit Report?
A tri-merge credit report simply combines three credit reports from the three largest credit reporting bureaus — Experian®, Equifax®, and Transunion® — and consolidates them into one credit report for creditors and lenders, mostly in the mortgage lending sector where more information is required to properly assess larger loans.
Creditors often rely on three-in-one credit reports because they want a thorough review of an applicant’s credit history.
That’s an outcome a lender may not get with input from just one credit reporting agency.
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How Do Merged Credit Scores Work
A tri-merge credit report gives those lenders what they need – a comprehensive overview of a credit applicant using information from three credit reports, instead of one or two credit reports.
By combining all three credit scoring formulas and outcomes into a single credit report, creditors can get an expanded and more complete look at a credit applicant’s financial history (including payments and credit usage), based on the information included in the tri-merge credit report.
Why Do You Have More Than One Credit Score?
Each credit scoring company has its own set of numbers to weigh a consumer’s credit health. And different types of loans have a different scoring method.
The most commonly used credit scoring model is the FICO® Score, a base score that has a range of 300 (lowest score) to 850 (highest score). But within the FICO models, there are industry-specific ranges.
• FICO® Auto Score Range is 250 to 900
• FICO® Bankcard Score Range is 250 to 900
• FICO® Mortgage Score Range is 300 to 850
VantageScore is another credit scoring model used by all three major credit reporting bureaus.
FICO Score and VantageScore base their calculations on different aspects of a person’s financial history.
• FICO uses factors that are in a credit report, such as payment history of credit accounts, how much debt a person has, how long credit accounts have been open, how often new credit inquiries happen and how often new credit accounts are opened, and the mix of credit account types.
• Vantage uses the same criteria as FICO, but places different levels of importance on each. Vantage also looks at additional factors that might not appear on a person’s credit report, such as rent and utility payments. Using factors such as these makes it possible for people who don’t have much of a credit history to have a credit score and be able to access consumer credit.
Lenders use fair credit scores and other information in the loan approval process.
Recommended: What is a FICO Score?
What Does A Tri-Merge Credit Report Look Like?
Tri-merge credit reports offer creditors the same look and feel as a standard consumer credit report, with a few differences.
For starters, the third-party provider creating the three-in-one credit report culls the credit reports from each of the three primary credit-reporting firms (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) and pulls the most pertinent information for use in the tri-merge credit report.
In its final form, the tri-merge credit report includes the following sections.
• The document usually includes an upfront summary that provides information on the credit applicant in capsule form.
• The report will also include a full section on the credit applicant’s financial accounts, focusing on larger accounts like mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, and personal loans.
• The report will also include data on the applicant’s credit payments history, any open accounts, any history of late or no credit payments, any tax liens or bankruptcies, and the applicant’s credit utilization ratio (i.e., the applicant’s outstanding credit balance divided by the total amount of revolving credit the applicant has available.)
• A tri-merge credit report may also include a specific credit report from any of the three major credit reporting agencies, based on the specific credit analysis needs of the mortgage lender who uses the three-in-one report.
Why Do Personal Loan Lenders Look at Your Tri-Merge Credit Report?
Tri-merge credit reports are more commonly used in mortgage lending than personal loan lending. But if you’re applying for a large personal loan — some lenders offer personal loans up to $100,000 — the lender may look at a tri-merge credit report to get a comprehensive picture of your creditworthiness. The tri-merge credit report will include any current or past personal loans and your payment history on those. The lender will use that information to determine approval for the loan you’re applying for.
Recommended: What Are the Common Uses for Personal Loans?
How Does a Tri-Merge Credit Report Affect Your Loan Application?
Different lenders approach the risk of lending money with different tolerance levels, just as they each have different credit score requirements. A loan applicant whose credit reports don’t include late payments and unmanageable debt loads will likely be approved for a loan with favorable terms and lower interest rates.
Alternatively, a loan applicant whose credit report shows a large amount of existing debt and a history of late or missed payments may be offered a high interest rate and less favorable terms.
Because lenders that use a tri-merge credit report to assess an applicant’s creditworthiness are looking at a comprehensive picture, it’s in the best interest of the applicant to clean up their credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus before they begin applying for a loan.
Is a Tri-Merge Credit Report a Hard Inquiry?
Any official lender review of a tri-merge credit report will be a hard inquiry and will impact your credit score. In general, each hard credit inquiry can decrease a credit score by five points.
The severity of any credit score decline due to a hard pull largely depends on the applicant.
A consumer with a strong credit report may see less of a credit scoring decline than one with a weak credit report. Multiple credit report hard inquiries can be a reason why a consumer with a weak credit history may see their credit scores decline moderately.
Recommended: Soft vs Hard Credit Inquiry: What You Need to Know
Can I Order My Own Tri-Merge Credit Report?
Tri-merge credit reports are available to lenders, but not generally to individuals. A lender may be willing to share with you the tri-merge credit report they pulled in your application process. A credit counselor who offers first-time homebuyer programs may also be able to pull a tri-merge credit report for you in a credit review process, but there may be a fee for that service.
However, you can — and it’s a good idea to do this — request a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.
You can request a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Reviewing all three of your credit reports will give you much of the same information as is included in a tri-merge credit report.
Tri-merge credit reports can prove highly useful to mortgage lenders looking for a comprehensive review of an applicant’s credit report.
By merging the credit report analysis of the three major credit reporting agencies, creditors and lenders are getting a fully-formed outlook they likely wouldn’t get by relying on a single credit reporting agency.
For consumers, the key takeaway on three-in-one credit reports is simple – taking a disciplined and diligent stance on their credit, reviewing their credit reports on a regular basis, and ensuring key issues like on-time payments and good credit utilization rates are in good standing.
Checking your rate for a SoFi Personal Loan won’t affect your credit score,* so if you’re curious about the rate you may qualify for, one minute of your time will give you that information with no commitment to continue the process. If you decide to apply and are approved, your unsecured personal loan with SoFi will have no fees and competitive rates.
What is a tri-merge credit report?
A tri-merge credit report is a credit report combining information from the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Is a tri-merge credit report a hard inquiry?
When a tri-merge credit report is pulled during the formal loan application process, it will be a hard inquiry on the applicant’s credit report.
Can I pull my own tri-merge credit report?
Tri-merge credit reports are available to lenders, not individuals, and they’re mainly used in the mortgage loan process. If you’re working with a credit counselor, you may be able to have a tri-merge credit report pulled during a credit review process.
Photo credit: iStock/Irina Ivanova
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