Experian, Equifax and TransUnion tenant screening reports compared

Each of the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, provide a consolidated report to help you screen prospective tenants. But, which one is the best? We’ve outlined the main differences among these services, plus one tenant screening method that’s fast, easy, secure and free for landlords and rental agents.

March 16, 2023

5 min read


When screening prospective tenants, you need reliable and unbiased information about them to make an informed decision. While you technically can take an applicant for their word that they’re a great tenant, that’s a risk that could culminate in a huge headache for you down the road.

To better evaluate applicants, landlords use what’s known as a tenant screening report. This sheds light on a rental applicant’s financial and rental history. These reports can help landlords and rental agents identify any risks that tenants may pose to the property and any potential maintenance issues they may cause. Because there are so many types of reports available, you should know what is included in each report, how easy they are to understand, and decide which one is right for you.

What is a tenant screening report?

A tenant screening report includes information that helps you learn about potential tenants before accepting their application. These reports contain personal data, such as name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. It looks at an applicant’s credit history, outstanding debts, payment history, credit application activity, and financial status that can signal whether or not they can pay rent on time. Sometimes, to inform a person’s financial standing, credit bureaus will collect information from federal and private student loan providers as well as housing lenders.

Tenant screening reports also include an applicant’s full credit history, showing details like current loans, credit card accounts, past due and delinquent payments, a credit score, and rental history tracking. Some reports offer a residential score, which covers rental history and landlord recommendations, verifies tenancy, verifies income, and may also include criminal history and eviction information.

It’s important to note that credit bureaus do not all calculate an individual’s credit score the same way. That’s because not all credit card companies, lenders, and other trade lines of credit report to all three bureaus. TransUnion credit scores, for example, are based on the VantageScore® 3.0 model which assesses a tenant’s creditworthiness and is what you want to know as a landlord or property manager. All three credit bureaus use the Fair Isaac Company (FICO®) score model, which is mainly used to evaluate personal loans, mortgages, and car loans. While it’s good for an overall credit picture and overview of a tenant’s payment habits, it is not as precise on creditworthiness as the VantageScore.

How do I request a tenant screening report?

You can request a tenant screening report from the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. These companies collect, analyze, and disburse credit-related information. Each of the credit bureaus will ask you to start an account with them. To do this, you’ll visit each website and fill out a contact form for them to get back to you to start your account.

During the application process, your prospective tenant will sign a release allowing you to request a tenant screening report. This release must include the prospective tenant’s full name with a middle initial and social security number. You can then enter this via your account on the credit bureau's websites. If you use RentSpree to manage the application and tenant screening process, the tenant enters their information and signs the release when they apply.

Comparing the tenant screening reports

While tenant screening reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian should all include the exact same personal information, the reports have a few key differences.


An Experian credit report shows a monthly “Balance History” for any accounts closed, those with an outstanding balance, or still open if they fall within a 10-year timeframe from when they were opened. Experian reports include information indicating a high credit and balance for all reported accounts. For accounts open less than 10 years, the Balance History data will reflect when the account was opened. Experian also includes the length of time the account has been opened on the credit report you request under “Status Details.” This information helps landlords and tenants know when a negative item such as a bankruptcy, eviction, foreclosure or tax liens will stop affecting their credit scores.


An Equifax report shows an 81-month credit history for all credit accounts. This is the longest credit history provided out of all three bureaus. Equifax has two account categories, “Open Accounts” and “Closed Accounts,” to make it easier to examine a screening report quickly. For closed or paid accounts with insufficient data, you’ll see the following message in the report: “No 81-Month Payment Data available for display.”


TransUnion offers the most specific employment data of the three credit bureaus in its personal summary. Tenants can update or correct personal data fields, including their current or previous employer’s name, position, and the date they were hired. TransUnion reports also list “Satisfactory” and “Unsatisfactory” accounts and include a color-coded payment history to indicate the status of any late payments. The following colors correspond to various status levels:

  • Red – 90-120 days late
  • Orange – 60 days late
  • Yellow – 30 days late
  • Green – payments are current
  • White – unknown

TransUnion does list some accounts as N/R or “not reported.” These could be items that the tenant has disputed for being inaccurate and are under investigation, or they could be misreported by a creditor and are under investigation.

The information provided by each of the three credit reporting bureaus is almost identical, with a couple of significant exceptions. TransUnion gives landlords an easy-to-understand residential score that helps them determine if the potential tenant is a risk for skipping out on a payment or leaving the property in disrepair. Experian can help landlords get a complete view of prospective tenants and predict future rent-payment information. Equifax has a tenant screening process online that can be customized by property.

RentSpree simplifies the tenant screening report process

Running a report from all three credit bureaus (or even one) can involve a lot of work on the part of a landlord, from inputting all of an applicant’s information to interpreting the report’s results. Free for rentals agents and landlords, RentSpree eases this burden and simplifies the tenant screening and approvals process. RentSpree's fast and accurate and secure tenant screening service is powered by TransUnion. Where lawful, the report gives you a complete rental history, credit history, credit score, criminal history, and eviction report.

Because RentSpree has partnered with TransUnion, landlords receive instant income and current rental verification, which saves time over manual verification. The RentSpree system automates application intake, processing, the approval/denial process, and the denial letter. Landlords can approve or deny a tenant in a matter of minutes, knowing they are making a decision based on reliable, unbiased information.

If you’re a landlord, you’ll want to use a tenant screening report that provides the most comprehensive picture of your future tenant as possible. RentSpree tenant screening checks all the boxes, and delivers the information you need to avoid renting to a risky tenant. Sign up with RentSpree today to simplify the entire tenant screening process.


Get thoughts, news, and tips sent straight to your inbox.
By subscribing, you confirm that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.