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Which credit bureaus do banks use?

In Canada, there are two major credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion. That means you technically have two credit reports and two credit scores — one for each credit reporting agency.

Every bank in Canada will use at least one credit bureau to pull your credit report when you apply for a credit card, loan, mortgage or other credit product. And knowing which Canadian credit bureau they work with can help you review your score in advance to make sure there are no problems.

How do credit bureaus work?

Canada’s two credit bureaus, Equifax and Experian, receive monthly information detailing your credit habits from banks and lenders. The credit bureaus then use this information to create your credit report. This report includes:

  • Your payment history

  • Your credit utilization (how much credit you use versus how much you have access to)

  • The length of your credit history

  • Public records (accounts in collection and bankruptcies)

  • Credit inquiries from other lenders

When a bank requests a copy of your credit report, it’s able to see all of your credit accounts and payment history in order to get a better idea of how you handle credit. This will help the bank decide whether to approve you for a new credit account or not.

Which credit bureaus do lenders use in Canada?

Most lenders will work with one specific credit bureau to pull your credit information. You can typically ask the lender which credit agency it partners with or check online.

Here are some of the most common lenders in Canada and the credit bureaus they primarily work with:

Equifax:

  • Borrowell

  • Meridian Credit Union

  • TD Canada Trust

TransUnion

  • Capital One

  • PC Financial

  • MBNA

This list can change as lenders may make new agreements with the other credit bureau. For instance, CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) previously partnered with Equifax, but many users are reporting their credit scores are now pulling from TransUnion. Some banks may partner with both credit bureaus depending on the type of application. BMO (Bank of Montreal), Scotiabank, National Bank, HSBC, and Tangerine may pull from either Equifax or TransUnion.

Why it’s helpful to know which credit bureau your lender uses

Knowing this information can help you as you prepare to apply for a new credit account. For example, if you’re looking at a home loan from a lender that works primarily with Equifax, you can pull your Equifax credit score and report in advance so you can view what the lender will see during the application process.

If you notice a discrepancy or lower credit score than expected, check for errors and report any to the credit bureau before applying for a new loan. If the information is accurate, working on growing your credit before applying for an account might be helpful.

How can you get a free credit report in Canada?

You can receive a free credit report in Canada from each credit bureau’s online website. You can view your Equifax credit score here and your TransUnion credit score here.

If you’d like to view your credit score, you may have access to a free service through your credit card company or bank. You can also view your Experian credit score for free online. Your TransUnion credit score is also free online if you live in Quebec.

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Courtney Johnston

Courtney is a professional writer, editor and financial literacy enthusiast. You can find her writing on CNET, Investopedia, The Motley Fool, Yahoo Finance, MSN and The Balance. She spends her free time exploring different cities across the globe or enjoy some downtime with her two cats and one dog.