What are Trade Lines?

“Tradeline” is one the common credit industry terms used to identify accounts on your credit reports. Trade lines are the credit card accounts and loans on your credit report.  A trade line contains accounts receivable data provided by credit grantor and includes a combination of current and historical information.

Trade line contents

Below is a list of possible information that can be on your tradeline, but not every tradeline will contain every item. Some are for specific accounts such as  credit cards, loans or delinquent accounts.

Account name – It includes the name of the lender.

Account number –  This is your credit card or loan number. It is not displayed in full on your credit report because of security and privacy issues.

Type of Account – The account is categorized into four account types: revolving, installment, open, installment, or mortgage. A revolving account is usually a credit card such as a retail card, bankcard, or gas card.  If you don’t pay in full, the amount you owe “revolves” and it is added on to what you owe the following month. Installment loans are accounts in which you owe a fixed amount each month for a specified time frame. A vehicle loan is a good example. Open accounts require you to pay in full each month, such as the American Express green card. Mortgage has its own category even though it is also an installment loan.

Account Owner/responsibility –  There are four categories of payment responsibility: joint, authorized user, cosign and individual. A joint account is shared by two individuals, which are usually a husband and wife, who are both responsible for paying the account. An authorized user is listed on the account, but is not responsible for payment.  A child is often added to their parent’s account as an authorized user.. A cosigner is responsible for paying the account,  if the signee doesn’t pay it.  An individual account has one person solely responsible for payment.

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Payment status – This is the time frame in which you pay your bills now. The best status is “pay as agreed”. The list is as follows:

Pays as agreed

30 days late  (30-59 days past due)

60 days late (60-89 days past due)

90 days late (90-119 days past due)

120 days late (120-149 days past due)

150 days late (159-179 days past due)

180 days late (180 days late and above)


Charge off


Date opened –  This is date you opened the account.

Date reported – This is the last date a credit grantor reported this account on your credit report.

Date of last activity –The last date there was some type activity on the account, which is usually a payment or billing.  This determines the currency of the trade line.

Date closed –The date you or the credit grantor closed the account.

High credit –  The maximum amount you have ever charged on this credit card.

Credit Limit –  The maximum amount you can charge on the credit card.  For a loan this is the original amount of the loan.

Balance – The amount you owe.  For a credit card it is the unpaid amount. For a loan it is the monthly payment.

Terms – The monthly payment and number of months of the installment loan.

Months reviewed – The number of months this account has been reviewed, which is how long it has been open.  If it is closed, it will be reflect the amount of time it was open.

Date of first delinquency – The first date that you were past due or at least 30 days late on the account.

Date of major delinquency first reported – The first date you were past due 120 days on the account.

Historical payment status – This includes how you paid this account for the past seven years.  For the months that you didn’t “pay as agreed”, the month and the rating are listed.

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As you can see, tradelines are the core of the credit report.  They include both current and historical payments which indicate how well you pay your bills now and in the past.

JRU on 60 Mins SetCredit Reporting Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.  Follow him on Twitter here.