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What Are Tradelines and How Do They Work?

What Are Tradelines and How Do They Work
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updated: July 6, 2024
edited by Erik Haagensen

Tradelines tell your financial story in detail. Every revolving and installment loan on your credit account has a tradeline, including credit cards; personal, auto, and student loans; mortgages; and home equity loans or lines of credit. Each tradeline notes detailed information concerning the debt.

The three main credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—place them under “Tradeline Summary” on your credit report and use them to determine your credit score, a sort of snapshot of your creditworthiness. Lenders review them to get a more complete picture of your financial life beyond your score. They use tradelines to make a decision on whether to issue you credit, loans, and insurance, as well as whether to give the OK on renting a house or an apartment.

What are tradelines used for?

Tradelines serve as an explication of a credit score. For example, a lender can determine by looking at a tradeline if you’re delinquent on a particular account. If that’s the case, the lender can also find out how long the account has gone unpaid or if your credit score has dropped due to your high credit utilization ratio.

That ratio is calculated by dividing the total credit available to you by the amount of credit you’re using. It helps to decide if you're a credit risk by checking the balance against the credit limit.

You can dispute information on your credit report. Incorrect or fraudulent negative tradelines must be fixed or removed within 30 days after the credit bureau receives proof of the mistake.

What are the categories found on tradelines?

There are three basic types of debt.

  • Revolving debt: generally credit cards and lines of credit.
  • Installment debt: various types of loans.
  • Open accounts: accounts normally used by businesses, not individuals.

Each debt you have under any of these categories would have its own tradeline.

Which records are included in a tradeline?

The information found on tradelines usually includes:

  • Lender's name and address.
  • Type of account.
  • Partial account number.
  • Current status.
  • Date the account was opened (and closed, if applicable).
  • Date of last activity.
  • Current balance.
  • Original loan amount or credit limit.
  • Monthly payment.
  • Recent balance (for credit cards only).
  • Payment history.

Special considerations

If a consumer closes an account in good standing, the closure will typically remain on their credit report for 10 years. Negative information goes away after seven years.

Delinquencies are organized by the number of days late—usually 30, 60, 90, or 180.The payment status may be set to “charge off” if the lender doesn’t believe the creditor will pay their debt or thinks they may declare bankruptcy.

What happens when you are removed from a tradeline?

If you are an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, you can try to have your name removed from a delinquent account. However, only the primary card user has the authority to do this. If you succeed at getting your name removed, that particular tradeline will be erased from your credit report.

TIME Stamp: Tradelines provide the nitty-gritty of your credit history

Tradelines provide the details behind your credit score and give the lender a more complete picture on how you are managing your credit. They can tell the lender whether you pay your mortgage on time or not, how often you use credit cards, and whether you’re behind on paying off your student loans. If your picture shows bad financial health, it can damage your ability to get loans, be approved for a rental house or apartment, or buy a new car on credit.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is an example of a tradeline?

A tradeline could be your purchase of a $300 coat on credit and when you paid for it, the history of your car loan, or—for a business—a loan to buy new equipment and when it was paid in full.

Where do you find tradelines on your credit report?

They appear under the “Tradeline Summary” heading on your report.

How do you get a tradeline?

Tradelines are recorded when you use credit of any kind, including credit cards and loans.

Can tradelines hurt your credit?

Tradelines can indeed hurt your credit if you are late paying back loans or delinquent on your credit card bill.. This is because credit bureaus report your financial behavior to lenders.

How long do tradelines last?

Tradelines last as long as a debt is outstanding. If you pay off an account while you’re in good standing, the information will stay on your report for another 10 years, potentially boosting your credit score. However, if you close a delinquent account, the tradeline associated with it will be on your report for seven years, possibly hurting your credit score.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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