How to Get Your Free Credit Report And Credit Score
Your credit score can affect your financial life in many ways. It can change the rate you get on a mortgage, the likelihood of credit card approvals and even the application for your dream job. In addition, reviewing credit reports and credit scores may help you detect signs of identity theft on time.
People sometimes get confused and think that credit reports and credit scores are the same thing. Here is what you need to know about both of these terms:
A credit score is the numerical value calculated from information in your credit file. In other words, it is a “grade” of your creditworthiness. This score changes over time so it can accurately reflect your current financial behavior.
On the other hand, a credit report is a brief picture of your financial reliability: mainly your history of paying debts and other bills. In addition, they include information like number and types of accounts you have, collection actions outstanding debt, your accounts age, among others. It is worth noticing that your credit score is calculated from the information of your credit report.
It is useful for you to have access to both reports. Let’s start first with how to get your free credit report.
How To Obtain Your Free Credit Report
According to federal law, you have the right to ask for a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit report companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Following these easy steps you will get your report online very quickly:
- Go to annualcreditreport.com.
- On the home page, click on the red button “Request your free credit reports”
- Complete the 3 steps highlighted in the page:
- Fill out the form (one for each of the 3 reports you would like to get)
- Pick the report you would like. Remember you can choose a report from one, two or even the three credit report companies.
- Request and review your reports: To do so, you will need to answer some more questions. They are supposed to be hard and you may even require your records to answer them. After getting your reports, it’s advisable to print them so you can check at them later.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the online request, there is always the old-fashioned way: just call 1-877-322-8228. You will need to provide some basic information about yourself such as your name, address, social security number, and date of birth (in order to verify your identity).
After reviewing your reports, if you see something strange and would like to dispute information, place a fraud alert or if you have a specific question, contact directly the credit agencies via online or by phone:
How To Obtain Your Free Credit Score
Before showing you the ways of obtaining your free credit score, you should remember the pre-conditions you must meet in order to have a FICO credit score (the most used credit scoring system):
- Have at least one account opened for 6 months or longer
- Your account has been reported to the credit bureaus within the past 6 months
- Have no indication of being deceased on a credit report
If you have ticked all the previous “boxes” and are in compliance with all the prerequisites, you can start searching for your credit scores.
Below you can find some free and reliable sources to get your scores:
MyFico is the consumer division of FICO, the creators of the score methodology 25 years ago. Although it does not provide your actual credit score for free (it charges $30 per month for the full service), there is a Fico Score estimator on its website. It could be useful to get an easy and quick estimation of your score. All you have to do is answer around 12 multiple choice questions related to your credit history such as:
- How many cards do you have?
- How long ago did you get your first loan?
- In the last 10 years, have you ever experienced bankruptcy, tax lien, foreclosure, repossession or an account in collections?
If you are clear about your credit history, you will be able to answer all of the questions and get your estimated score in less than five minutes. Remember: this is not your actual score, but if you responded the questions accurately then it will provide a decent estimation.
As it is part of Experia and it provides both a free credit report and score from this agency only. In addition, it provides 7 days a week support and no credit card information is required. You will only need to provide your personal information. Freecreditscore is definitely an excellent choice if you only want or need the Experia information.
There is a 7-day trial option that will provide you with your TransUnion credit score for free. After that, you will be charged $20 per month. You can cancel your membership whenever in those 7 days without any charge.
Freescoreonline offers a 7-day free trial membership that gives access to the three bureaus credit scores. After that, you will be charged $40 per month. Again, you can cancel your membership whenever in those 7 days without any charge.
Ask your credit card provider
An increasing number of people are now finding FICO scores on their monthly credit card statements (around 50 million now according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). The Federal government has been encouraging card issuers to offer this service, and there is a new program that allows them to make it at no cost. Most of the biggest banks (Discover, Barclays, Chase, among others) are now providing this service for free and it is expected that most of the major banks will start doing it soon.
- There are many ways to get your free credit report and free credit score. We recommend understanding first which source is best suited for you before start requesting the actual scores.
- Sometimes a combination of two or three websites could be the way to go.
- It is a good practice to look both at your credit reports and scores for consistency and complete information.
- If you choose a “free trial membership” then you may want to create a reminder to cancel it before the paid-membership period starts.
- If you want assistance in increasing your credit score, view the best credit repair companies. It’s important to choose a reputable credit repair company.