What Is a Tradeline on Your Credit Report?
Tradelines are the credit industry's term for the accounts on your credit report. This includes all your individual credit cards and loans. New tradelines are created when an account is sold to a new creditor or lender or when you receive a new credit card number after reporting your credit card lost or stolen.
Information Reported for Credit Report Tradelines
Unless part of the history has aged off your credit report because of the credit reporting time limit, your credit report will include the entire account history for each tradeline including:
- Credit or lender's name
- A partial account number
- The type of account
- Date the account was opened
- Date of last activity
- Current balance
- Credit limit or loan amount
- Amount of the last payment
- Date the account was last updated
- Payment history
- Current account status
- Any delinquencies in the past seven years
Affect on Your Credit Score
Your credit score, the three-digit number that measures your creditworthiness, is calculated using tradeline information from your credit report. If you've been responsible with your credit obligations, i.e., made your payments on time and kept your balances low, you'll have a high credit score to show for your efforts.
To generate a credit score for you, your credit report must have at least one tradeline that's been open and active in the past six months for the credit scoring calculation.
The number of tradelines you have open at a time can affect your credit score. Having too many can make you look overextended and having too few shows you lack experience with credit.
Unfortunately, credit scoring companies haven't disclosed the specific number of tradelines you need to achieve excellent credit. To build the best credit score, you should ideally open and close accounts only as you need, keep your existing accounts in good standing, and keep your debt balances low.
While good credit comes with a number of benefits, it doesn't guarantee your applications will be approved. For example, you can have a credit application denied for opening too many tradelines opened in the past 24 months or if you recently opened a new account.
Credit bureaus are allowed to report information that's accurate, complete, and within the credit reporting time limit, including negative and delinquent accounts that actually belong to you.
Open tradelines with positive information will remain on your credit report indefinitely, while closed tradelines with positive information will stay on your credit report based on each credit bureau's internal reporting guidelines. On the other hand, closed tradelines with negative information will fall off your credit report within seven to 10 years.
How Is Information Collected
Creditors and lenders you have accounts with provide tradeline information to the credit bureaus based on their agreement with the credit bureaus. Each month or so, businesses update your account information with the credit bureaus so the most recent information shows for each of your tradelines.
Ordering your credit report allows you to see what's being reported about you. Federal law entitles you to one free credit report each year from each of the major credit bureaus. You can order this free credit report by going to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Once you've obtained your credit report, review it thoroughly to be sure all the information reported about you is accurate. If you spot errors on your credit report, like tradelines that are outdated or aren't completely accurate, you can have them removed by writing to the credit bureau.
Because of variations in how lenders and credit card issuers report your accounts, tradelines may have slight differences across your three credit reports. Some tradelines may appear on only one of your three credit reports. By law, all the information regarding your tradelines should be complete and accurate.
Can You Buy New Tradelines for Your Credit Report?
Adding new tradelines to your credit report is one way to improve your credit score, allowing you to build a positive payment history. When you're just starting out with credit or you have damaged credit, secured credit cards, store credit cards, and credit builder loans are the best options for getting new accounts.
If you've had trouble getting approved or you're looking for a shortcut, you may be tempted to purchase tradelines. There are companies to sell access to tradelines, charging hundreds of dollars to add your name to someone's existing tradeline, preferably one that's been open for several years and has no delinquencies.
Once you're added to the tradeline, usually as an authorized user on someone's credit card, the account appears on your credit report long enough to boost your credit score and you can apply for credit on your own.
Some credit card issuers also report the nature of your relationship to the primary account holder to the credit bureaus. Lenders may take this relationship into consideration when you're applying for credit.
Buying tradelines doesn't always work. Credit scoring companies have altered their formulas to exclude accounts where the authorized user does not have a relationship with the primary account holder. Rather than going through a company and paying hundreds of dollars for a tradeline, you can ask a relative or friend to make you an authorized user on one of their positive accounts.
If you're still interested in buying a tradeline as a last resort, do your due diligence. Companies that sell tradelines may operate as a scam or provide temporary or unreliable results.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Market Snapshot: Third-Party Debt Collections Tradeline Reporting," Page 2. Accessed Mar. 4, 2020.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What is a Credit Report?" Accessed Mar. 4, 2020.
myFICO. "Ask FICO: No FICO Score? What Should I Do?" Accessed Mar. 4, 2020.
myFICO. "How to Repair Your Credit and Improve Your FICO Scores." Accessed Mar. 4, 2020.
Discover Credit Resource Center. "Why Was My Credit Card Application Denied?" Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.
Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Credit Reporting Act § 602. Congressional Findings and Statement of Purpose," Page 1. Accessed Mar. 4, 2020.
Experian. "When Are Closed Accounts Deleted?" Accessed Mar. 4, 2020.
Experian. "Why You Should Avoid Buying Tradelines." Accessed Mar. 5, 2020.