Bank of America is most likely to check your Experian credit report when you make credit card application. After Experian, Bank of America will turn to Equifax. The bank will only use TransUnion data if necessary. By knowing which credit reports are used by lenders, you can take a peek at them before submitting an application -- for the purpose of improving your credit history before applying.
We learned this by reviewing 94 consumer-reported credit inquiries from January 2016 through December 2017. That showed us that Bank of America favors Experian when checking consumers’ credit. In different states, there may be slight differences as to which bureau is used.
Here’s a state-by-state rundown of which credit bureau is used by Bank of American depending on the state you apply from.
Bank of America Credit Reports Data
|State||Credit bureaus used|
|California||Equifax, Experian*, and TransUnion|
|Florida||Equifax, Experian*, and TransUnion|
|Illinois||Experian and TransUnion|
|Kentucky||Experian and TransUnion|
|Nevada||Equifax and Experian*|
|North Carolina||Equifax, Experian*, and TransUnion|
|Oregon||Experian and TransUnion|
|Pennsylvania||Experian and TransUnion|
|Texas||Experian* and TransUnion|
|Washington||Equifax, Experian*, and TransUnion|
*Denotes the most popular credit bureau used by Bank of America in the corresponding state.
Where We Got the Data
Applying for a credit card is already an unclear process a lot of the time, so you’re probably not surprised to hear that banks don’t tell you or us which credit bureaus it uses to make lending decisions. That means we can only gather this information from people who actually applied for cards from Bank of America.
When you apply for a credit card, the lender will pull a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. Credit bureaus keep a record of the number of “hard pulls” on your credit for two years. Each hard pull reduces your credit slightly. This is because applying for a lot of loans at once is a sign of poor financial health.
Because you can see hard pulls appear on your credit report, you can know which credit bureau a lender pulled your report from. The pull will simply show up in one report, but not the others.
We used the CreditBoards.com database to gather much of this data. People submit their credit application results on the website so others can gauge their odds of getting approved for a card. We chose to use just the last two years’ results to give you the most up-to-date information.
What Our Research Means for You
Our goal is to help you identify which credit report is most likely to affect your chances for approval for a Bank of America card. Find your state in the above table to see which bureaus are most likely to be used for your application. You can then use that information to take steps towards improving the credit score that bureau shows for you.
Ideally, the steps you take will improve your credit across all three bureaus, but focusing on a specific one can make your job easier. Keep in mind that Bank of America may opt to pull a report from more than one bureau.
How to Check Your Own Credit Reports
If you want to check your own credit report, there’s a lot of options available. We recommend that you retrieve your credit reports for free using AnnualCreditReport.com. The website does not charge you or force you to sign up for and then cancel a subscription. In fact, it’s the only government-sanction website that provides a free credit report from each major bureau.
You can get a report from each bureau once per year, free of charge.
If you want to look at your report more frequently than once per year, there are other free options. Some third-party financial management and credit-monitoring tools offer credit report services for free. Other credit card issuers like Capital One lets you view your credit report as well.
While the reports don’t come directly from the bureau, they’re sufficient to keep track of things and notice any big changes to your credit. I use all three of the options I mentioned above and it’s helped me grow my credit score to nearly 800 over the course of seven years.
When you do want to pull a copy of your report from AnnualCreditReport.com, use these tips.
- Enter your information accurately and double check it. Mistakes might lock you out temporarily.
- You’ll be asked verification questions. Some of these are trick questions, so don’t be afraid to answer “none of the above.”
- Save or print a copy of your report as soon as you get it, otherwise, you’ll lose it if you close the browser window.
- Consider pulling your report from a different bureau every four months. That lets you get consistent updates for free.
You can also request a report by phone by calling 1-877-322-8228 or by mail, by sending a form to:
- Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Requests made by phone and mail will be mailed to you within 15 days.
Another way to get your credit report for free is to ask a bank for a copy after you are denied for a credit card. They’ll send you a copy of the report they pulled to deny your application.
How to Make Your Credit Report Look Better
Once you’ve reviewed your credit report, you should start working to improve your credit. There are lots of things you can do to give your score a boost. These are the best ways to increase your odds of getting approved by Bank of America.
Fix Any Errors
It’s not uncommon for your credit report to contain errors. If someone has a similar name to you or a lender misreports information, you could have bad data on your report. Look for missed payments that shouldn’t be there, accounts that you didn’t open, and other things like that.
These errors can hurt your credit. Each bureau has different instructions for disputing errors, and you should certainly take the time to do so.
Remove Delinquent Accounts
Are there any negative records, such as past defaults or unpaid debts? Negotiate with those creditors to pay them back and have the mark removed from your file.
Pay Down Existing Debt
Lenders want to know they’ll get their money back. If you’ve borrowed a lot of money, lenders might worry that you won’t be able to make payments on a new loan or credit card. Reduce your total debt to reduce the lenders’ fears and improve your score.
Increase Your Credit Limit
Relatedly, increasing your credit limit means your existing debts will be a smaller percentage of your total available credit. This will improve your credit score.
Most credit card companies let you request a limit increase online, though some will make a hard pull on your credit, lowering your score.
When Your Credit Report is Updated
Lenders don’t send information to credit bureaus every day. Generally, it takes about thirty days for your credit report to reflect any changes such as lowered balances or increased credit limits. Usually, these changes will be reflected on your credit report after your statement cycle with each lender closes.
Your Income and Expenses Matter Too
Keep in mind that your income and expenses also play a role in getting approved for credit. Bank of America will ask you how much you make per year. It will also ask whether you own or rent your home, and how much your monthly housing payment is.
This goes back to the fact that lenders mostly care about getting their money back. If you make $1,000 per month and spend $700 on housing, it’s unlikely you can pay the bills on a new credit card. If you make $10,000 a month and spend $2,000 on housing, there’s a much better chance you can make payments.
I’ve experienced the effect of a higher income improving my luck with credit card companies. Many companies, such as Capital One, will periodically ask you to update them on your annual income.
I was asked to give Capital One an update a few months after receiving a promotion at work that increased my annual income by a good amount. When I entered the new income details, Capital One offered to increase the credit limit on my card by a few thousand dollars. This caused a nice jump in my credit score as my available credit went up.
There’s no doubt that having a higher income and lower expenses makes you more able to pay off debts. That’s exactly what Bank of America is looking for. Just be sure not to lie on your application. Bank of America might ask you to verify your claims by asking for rent bills or paystubs.
So long as you provide reasonable numbers, Bank of America is unlikely to ask for verification. However, if you claim to make $1 million a year, the bank might want proof.
Applying for a credit card can be a tricky process. These tips will help you increase your chances of getting approved for a card from Bank of America.
While you should focus on improving your credit report from Experian, making an effort to improve your credit at all three bureaus is the best way to get approved for a card.