In a world where consumer data is a legitimate commodity, nearly every company seems to track and trade in your personal information. But few companies have been in the information business quite as long as the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
These three companies have massive databases full of details about the credit and payment history of millions of Americans — most of it voluntarily reported by the creditors and lenders with which we do business every day.
Given that each credit agency is an independent entity, they’re not obligated to share most types of information, and each may possess a unique dataset for any given consumer. Since creditors can pull information from any one (or all three) of the bureaus, the specific bureau could impact whether your application is approved. Perhaps your credit score is slightly higher through Experian than it is through Equifax and you’re wondering if there are any credit cards that use Experian exclusively. Unfortunately, issuers don’t rely on any single bureau for all their information. Read on for more information.
No Issuer Pulls Exclusively From Experian
When you apply for a new credit card, the issuer will likely check your credit profile to determine whether to approve your credit application and, if so, what type of credit line and APR to offer. Basically, everything about your new card hinges on what’s in the specific credit report(s) that the issuer evaluates.
Since each report can show different things, being able to pick and choose which report an issuer uses would be ideal — but, unfortunately, it’s effectively impossible.
To start, while some issuers will only request a report from a single bureau, others may request two or even all three bureau reports. Moreover, credit card issuers are notoriously unpredictable when it comes to which bureau(s) they query for a particular application, and no single issuer exclusively uses any particular bureau, including Experian.
Some data suggests that your state of residence may be a factor in which bureau is used, but even that can vary by issuer and even by the specific card. And though some consumers have found success freezing a particular credit report to prevent it from being queried, some issuers may reject you out of hand if they can’t get the report they want.
Credit Card Issuers that Commonly Use Experian for Approval
Although it’s not possible to accurately predict which credit bureaus will be queried as the result of a particular credit card application, we do have a few tools for making fairly educated guesses. Primarily, we have data points.
As with many industries, the credit card world has its share of dedicated fans who like to dive deep into the ins and outs. In this case, credit card forum participants and consistent commenters have given us a variety of data points on which reports were pulled for their personal credit card applications.
From the data points, it’s quickly apparent that, while no issuers are exclusive to any one bureau, many pull reports more heavily from one bureau over the others. We found five issuers that seem to predominantly rely on Experian credit reports for credit card applications.
A powerhouse in the credit card world, Chase issues many of the most popular rewards cards on the market today. Unfortunately, Chase also has some of the highest credit standards and some of the most rigid limitations on who can be approved.
The issuer is also all over the board when it comes to which bureau it queries for a credit report. Although the data indicates that Experian is more frequently used than the other two bureaus, a number of reports suggest multiple reports were pulled.
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
- No annual fee
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
0% 15 Months
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Regardless of which bureau Chase checks, your application could be denied simply because you have too many new cards. Chase’s infamous 5/24 Rule means you will be automatically denied most Chase cards if you’ve opened five or more credit cards (from any issuer) within the last 24 months.
Wells Fargo’s history goes back to the days of the stagecoach so famously part of the bank’s logo. Modern-day Wells Fargo is one of the largest banks in the U.S., and the issuer has a number of popular credit card offerings designed to appeal to a variety of cardholders.
Although the data shows that Wells Fargo has a slight preference for pulling credit reports from Experian — approximately 47% of reported credit pulls — the bank also seems to pull from TransUnion fairly regularly, nor is it uncommon for Equifax to be queried for a report.
While Wells Fargo is one of the few issuers without known restrictions on how many cards you can have or how frequently you can apply for a new card, the bank is reported to restrict approval for some of its top cards to consumers who already have a Wells Fargo banking relationship.
Bank of America
Bank of America is often credited with the first mass-market consumer credit card, and the bank has maintained a foothold in the industry since those early experiments made history. While today’s Bank of America credit card lineup doesn’t have the same flash as some of its competitors, the bank still offers a little something for almost anyone.
Well, almost anyone with a decent Experian profile, that is. As the data shows, Bank of America pulls an Experian credit report more than 80% of the time, with the occasional double-up with a pull from one of the other two bureaus.
- 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
- 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
- There's no annual fee and your cash rewards don't expire. Each month, as you plan for future purchases, you can change your 3% choice category online or through our mobile app.
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
- Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees while earning points to use for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees
- Introductory 0%† APR for your first 12 billing cycles for purchases. After that, a Variable APR that's currently 14.99% to 22.99% will apply.
- 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening – which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
- That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 you spend, everywhere, every time.
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
14.99% - 22.99% (Variable)
- 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then 12.99% to 22.99% Variable APR
- $0 Intro Balance transfer fee during first 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10).
- No annual fee
- No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
- Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
12.99% to 22.99% (Variable)
As with most issuers, Bank of America has a few application rules in place to limit the number of cards you can obtain. Specifically, the bank will only approve two cards per rolling two months, three cards per 12 months, and up to four cards in any given 24-month period.
Citi’s banking roots go back more than a century, and the issuer has held a major role in the credit card market for decades. Although Citi doesn’t have quite as many top-tier rewards cards as some of its competitors, the bank has a number of popular picks, including several of the top rewards cards.
Looking at the data points, reports show that Citi can pull from any of the three bureaus — and frequently pulls from more than one. That said, more than 52% of reported pulls were from Experian. Many reports also indicated Equifax pulls, though many of these were in conjunction with an Experian credit report inquiry.
The Citi Premier Card is a popular travel card for its broad bonus rewards travel category that includes all of the typical expenses, like airfare and hotel stays, as well as gas station purchases.
- Earn 3X points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases, including gas stations
- Earn 2X points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment
- Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95
This card also has double rewards on dining, as well as a somewhat uncommon entertainment bonus rewards category that allows cardholders to earn double points on everything from concerts to sporting events to museum visits.
While Citibank doesn’t have any official limits on how many Citi cards you can have, the issuer does limit applications to once per week and two per every 60 days. If you apply more frequently, you will likely be denied automatically.
One of the very first consumer credit card companies, American Express still reigns as a top card issuer, both in terms of the number of cardholders and its high marks for customer satisfaction. Amex has a number of extremely popular rewards cards, though the issuer is known for its high standards.
According to the data points, it seems that Amex almost exclusively pulls Experian credit reports — almost, but not quite. Approximately 95% of reports include an Experian pull, though some reports indicated the issuer also pulled Equifax or TransUnion reports (and, sometimes, all three).
The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the top consumer travel credit cards on the market, and it’s not due entirely to its rewards. This card can have significant value to many consumers thanks to its copious benefits — which is important considering its massive annual fee.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points per $1 on flights/hotels booked directly with the airline/hotel or amextravel.com
- Receive up to $200 annual airline fee credit
- Pay a $550 annual fee
Some of this card’s most popular perks include airport lounge access, including the prestigious Amex Centurion lounges, as well as elite hotel status with both Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Cardholders are also eligible for a variety of travel protections as well as several monthly and annual credits for travel-related purchases.
The American Express® Gold Card is a highly competitive everyday rewards card, offering 4X points per dollar on both dining and groceries (limited to U.S. purchases, $25,000 annual cap on bonus grocery spend).
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points per $1 at US restaurants and grocery stores
- Receive 3X points on flights booked directly with the airlines
- Pay $250 annual fee
While this card does have a fairly hefty annual fee, its high rewards rates can help offset the cost for heavy spenders. Plus, the card offers several spending credits that can be valuable for those who can maximize them.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of the best everyday cards on the market; its 6% cash back on groceries (category cap of $6,000 a year) is beat only by its sibling, the Gold Card. Plus, the card also offers 3% cash back on gas, a competitive rate across the board.
- Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6k a year) & on select U.S. streaming services
- Earn 3% cash back on U.S. gas station and transit purchases
- Pay a $95 annual fee
Although the annual fee may be intimidating to some, even a modest spend of $31 in qualifying grocery purchases would earn enough cash back to offset the annual fee, making the rest of your rewards pure earnings.
In addition to checking your credit reports, American Express will also evaluate your history with them and your current Amex cards. In some cases, you may be automatically turned down for a new Amex card based on your existing Amex relationship.
All Three of Your Credit Reports Are Equally Important
The information on your credit reports can be a vital part of your personal finances. Good credit can make it possible not only to obtain new credit, but also to obtain affordable credit.
But, not all credit reports are the same. The information on each of your credit reports can vary based on which bureaus receive reports from your creditors, as well as which bureaus previous lenders have queried in the last two years.
Since you can’t always accurately predict which credit report — or, in many cases, reports, plural — will be used to evaluate your credit risk, it’s best to ensure you maintain all three of your credit reports to the best of your ability.
You should also endeavor to check all three of your credit reports on a regular basis to look for mistakes, outdated information, or potentially fraudulent accounts. While you can purchase your credit reports at any time, you are also entitled to one free credit report from each bureau once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com.