A lot of consumers have found it confusing to deal with credit reports and scores since there are many sources for this information. Often, consumers order credit information without being sure about what they are actually getting. So my aim is to clarify these matters through this article. Some typical questions you may have:
- Where do you get credit reports and credit scores?
- Can you get these reports and/or scores for free?
- What kind of credit information do we really need?
Here’s a quick rundown of how you can get free credit scores and reports. But along with this list, I will offer some explanations of what it is you are actually getting.
How To Get Your Free Credit Report and Score
#1 Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for free credit reports.
All consumers are entitled to one credit report annually from each major credit bureau: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. By staggering your orders so that you get a free report every few months from one reporting agency, you’ll be able to review how your reports change over time.
#2 Get your free credit report and score through free trials.
Suppose you want to get more than one free credit report per year from each of the major credit bureaus, and you’d also like to check out your credit score, then here’s where those credit monitoring services with free trials come into the picture. You can sign up for a free trial and obtain a credit report and score from a variety of sources, but if you aren’t interested in paying up per month, then you may of course, cancel your subscription before the trial is up:
#3 Order free reports directly from an individual credit reporting bureau.
I checked the individual credit reporting agencies and discovered that getting a free credit report through them directly is possible, albeit not too straightforward. If you search the Internet for “Equifax free credit report”, or “TransUnion free credit report”, you’ll land on the credit agencies’ specific home page but you may be misled into signing up for something that claims to be free but actually isn’t totally free. I’ll get into that a bit later. Suffice it to say, you can order one free report per year through these agencies. Note however, that Equifax is the only bureau that offers a bit of an explanation on how to do this. You can find out more about your Equifax credit report by checking out this link from the Equifax site that discusses how to order your free report.
I was disappointed to find that TransUnion and Experian simply led you to order pages that made you sign up for ongoing credit monitoring services that were available on free trial. While I see nothing wrong with these services (some may find it helpful), they may be offering you more than you need. If you are after something truly free and simple, and want to do your own credit tracking, then AnnualCreditReport.com is a better option.
Note that you may be eligible for a free report under certain circumstances as well, such as when you’re unemployed, or if you’re a victim of fraud, theft or errors, or if you’re on public assistance.
#4 Talk to your mortgage lender: they may have your credit score available for free.
If you’re okay about having your lender find out about your credit score before you do, then they may be able to provide you this information for free. This score is what they ordinarily use to evaluate your mortgage or home equity loan application.
#5 Get free non-FICO credit scores through other sites.
Check out sites like Quizzle.com and CreditKarma.com for free credit scores. Realize that these scores are NOT FICO scores, and are calculated via proprietary formulas. FICO scores are like a standard for credit scores and are the most commonly used in the financial industry. If you don’t care about picking up a proprietary score, then you can visit the aforementioned sites.
#6 Check your credit scores using a credit simulator.
The simplest way to get a ballpark idea of your credit score is to simply go through a credit score simulator or estimator. This way, you won’t need to create an account on any site, submit your SSN information anywhere or fork over your credit card information. Know that these scores may not be completely accurate, but they may give you some idea of where you generally stand, with regards to your credit rating. Here’s one from myFICO.com
Where To Order FICO Credit Scores
If you’re looking for the works — all the information you need (and more) on your credit, then the most reputable place to find it is at myFICO. While free credit reports and free non-FICO (proprietary) scores exist, it’s not that easy to find free FICO scores. If you need your FICO score, then you’ll have to order a product like FICO Standard, which you can get for a fee. Its features include:
- A choice of an individual FICO credit score and report from TransUnion or Equifax.
- An explanation of factors affecting your FICO scores.
- A FICO Score Simulator.
For more information on myFICO, check out their products below:
|myFICO Product||Discount / Promotional Code||Price|
|FICO Standard: Equifax||Discount Code for 20% Off is Automatically Applied||
|FICO Standard: TransUnion||Discount Code for 20% Off is Automatically Applied||
|Suze Orman’s FICO Kit||Discount Code for 20% Off is Automatically Applied||
|myFICO Score Watch||Free 30 Day Trial||Free for 30 Days then $99.95 a Year or $9.95 a Month|
Unless you’ve got a very good handle on your credit, it’s highly recommended that you get to know your credit status well, especially if you’re planning big purchases down the road which will require you to borrow money. You’ll want to keep tabs on your history in order to know how to improve your credit going forward and to correct any mistakes you notice on your report. It may be worth the small expense to obtain the credit information that will help you to better plan your goals.
You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com
or 877-322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under federal law.