All You Need to Know About Tri-Merge Credit Reports
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At a Glance
After researching and house hunting, when you’re ready to buy a new home, it’s time to apply for a mortgage. And because mortgages are typically large amounts, mortgage lenders are taking on more risk each time they accept an application. That’s why lenders thoroughly study the credit scores and reports of buyers before they are approved.
When you apply for a mortgage, you may hear the term “tri-merge credit report.” This is the report often used by mortgage lenders to determine a borrower’s creditworthiness. Read on to learn more about what it is, how to read it, and why it’s important.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What is a tri-merge credit report?
- What does a tri-merge credit report include?
- How to read a tri-merge credit report
- How do merged credit reports work?
- Can you order your tri-merge credit report?
- Why do lenders look at tri-merged credit reports?
- Does a tri-merge report help a mortgage application?
- Is there a tri-merge credit score?
What is a tri-merge credit report?
Also called a three-bureau report, a tri-merge credit report combines the information from all three consumer credit reports into one. Each individual report is created by the credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and when combined, they give a comprehensive look into a borrower’s financial situation.
These reports are often ordered by mortgage lenders when you apply for a mortgage to determine how likely you are to make your home loan payments on time. Many times, using a tri-merge report boosts the odds of approval.
Your three-digit FICO credit score is also compiled from the information in these reports and is another way for lenders to determine your creditworthiness and risk.
What does a tri-merge credit report include?
The information on your tri-merge report doesn’t differ from your reports from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion, it just merges your data from all three credit bureaus, including your:
- Payment history
- Existing loan and credit card accounts
- Credit utilization
- Age of credit history
- Credit mix and experience
- Bankruptcy filings
How to read a tri-merge credit report
There are four main sections in a tri-merge credit report:
- Applicant information:This section shows the contact deals of the credit bureaus’ office, each with a unique identifier for the report. It also contains contact information of creditors and/or lenders, as well as the borrower’s information such as name, Social Security number, and address.
- In-file report:This report includes your credit score, an aggregate from the report contents. This score is known as your FICO score and gives lenders a good idea about your creditworthiness.
- Tradelines:Here, you’ll find more information about the borrower’s existing debt, such as account date opening, type of loan or account, and the last activity on the account. The lender can see your highest balance, late payments, payment terms, active loan amounts, and any other applicable data.
- Public records:This section shows if there have been any bankruptcies, foreclosures, and tax liens. It also outlines any credit inquiries from other creditors or lenders, and additional information including consumer statements and consumer referrals. You’ll also find an in-depth credit reporting agency information, creditor contact information, and credit summary.
How do merged credit reports work?
Merged credit reports work similarly to individual credit reports except that they contain information from each credit bureau combined into one.
When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will pull your tri-merge report to get a better idea of your creditworthiness and finances. They will analyze the data on the report, as well as your FICO credit score, to determine the risk level from accepting your application. If you have a good report and score and are deemed a lower risk, your application will be accepted.
Then, the lender will use information on the report to determine your loan’s interest rate and terms.
Can you order your tri-merge credit report?
No, you can’t order your tri-merge credit report because it’s only offered to lenders. However, you are able to order copies of each of your individual credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus:
- Download your reports once per year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Contact each credit bureau individually, as they will provide one copy for free per year.
If you’ve applied for a mortgage, you can ask the loan officer to provide a copy of your report. If they can’t, the company that prepared it for the lender may be able to. Just note they are not required to provide one to you (unless your application is denied).
If your application is denied, you’re entitled (by law) to a copy of the report the denial was based on.
Why do lenders look at tri-merged credit reports?
Because a mortgage is such a large loan, lenders are taking a much larger risk when approving your application. Unlike personal loans, which typically are smaller (though they can be up to $100,000), mortgages could potentially equal hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the lender has to take a risk to assume you’ll repay it all.
Typically, credit reports don’t exactly match for a number of reasons, and they can list different data and have different credit scores. However, mortgage lenders have a very particular interest in understanding and examining all of your credit data because of the size and risk of a mortgage, ultimately to protect their own interests.
Your tri-merge report is a great look into your creditworthiness, showing your history of paying bills on time and managing credit responsibly. It allows mortgage lenders to see a complete picture of how you’ve used and managed credit in the past, more so than looking at individual reports. This increases the likelihood that your application will be approved, and it can also help you get a lower interest rate.
Does a tri-merge report help a mortgage application?
While typically similar, each lender has their own credit requirements for borrowers who are applying for a mortgage and buying a house. For example, some may be willing to take on a borrower with a lower credit score (meaning they are higher risk) compared to others who may require higher credit scores/lower risk.
When you apply, the lender will use the information on your credit reports, as well as your FICO credit score and other factors, to determine whether they want to approve your application. Your tri-merge report outlines how responsibly you manage your credit and your history of creditworthiness, but it’s just as likely to help or hurt your application as any of the other individual reports:
- Having a high credit score and clean credit report will not only improve your chances of being approved, but also help you get a lower interest rate.
- On the other hand, if your tri-merge report has late payments or other negative marks, you may have greater difficulty qualifying and/or higher interest.
Is there a tri-merge credit score?
Even though a tri-merge credit report merges your reports from the three credit bureaus, this does not happen with your credit score.
When your tri-merge credit report is pulled by a lender, it will include three FICO scores (as calculated by each reporting agency). Most lenders use the middle score, or the lower middle score if you apply for a joint mortgage.
Note that a mortgage credit score is tailored to mortgage risk factors, so it might be different from the credit score you get online (your consumer credit score).
Yes, a tri-merge report is considered a hard inquiry.
Related: Hard Credit Inquiry
Also called three-bureau credit monitoring, this will send you alerts of changes on credit reports from all three bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). Without using tri-bureau monitoring, you may miss errors that only appear on one of the three reports.
Related: What is Credit Monitoring?
It’s recommended to have a credit score of at least 620 or higher when applying for a mortgage, though some lenders may require higher scores. Remember, the higher your score, the better interest rate and terms you’ll be offered.
Credit scores are calculated differently using different scoring models, so your scores may vary based on which credit bureau furnishes the credit report used for the data. Additionally, not all lenders and creditors report to all three credit bureaus, so you may have information on one report that’s not on another.