3 Simple Free Credit Report Options
Since 2003, consumers have been able to get their Annual Credit Report online. Annual Credit Report is the only federally backed website that allows you to look at a detailed list of your financial history, including payments and accounts, as reported by the three big credit bureaus.
It has been much more difficult to get the credit score that lenders look at when you apply for a loan or credit card to decide how big of a risk you pose. Now, there are a number of places to get your credit score for free.
1. Free Credit Score Websites
- Credit Karma will show you your Transunion and Equifax reports and provide estimated scores based on that information. Be aware that the credit scores this site provides are using a different scoring system called VantageScore. This is different than what most lenders use since 90-95% of lenders use the FicoScore. Nevertheless, this free site is a great way to monitor how your actions are impacting your score and gives you a good indicator of your credit worthiness.
- Credit.com will provide a VantageScore based on the Experian report, but you won’t get any history. If you go to www.experian.com, you CAN get a free copy of your Experian report, directly from one of the three main credit bureaus that lenders use. If you sign up for both on the same day, you will have an estimated score based on the history that you see.
- Credit Sesame and Nerd Wallet provide a free VantageScore based on the Transunion report as well as some great articles and suggestions to improve that score.
There is no credit card required to sign up for your free accounts at these websites, but they do try and have you sign up for their memberships that automatically enroll you in their monitoring program after 30 days. If they are asking for your credit card, go back because you are in the wrong place!
What is a good credit score? Once you get your free credit report, check out our article on how to understand different types of FICO credit scores.
2. Credit Card Companies
Many credit card issuers are now providing your FICO score for free. Your FICO score, which ranges from 300 to 850, can now be found on your monthly credit card statements or on your account when you log in.
More credit card issuers are offering free FICO scores every day, due in part to pressure from federal officials to do so. Call your credit card provider and ask if it offers a way for you to access your credit score for free.
3. Mobile Phone Apps
- Experian provides the FICO 8 score using the Experian report. This is a great app since the FICO scoring model is the one most used by lenders. This score will be closer to what lenders see when they pull your credit for a loan application.
- Credit Karma provides the VantageScore 3 based on Transunion and Equifax reports.
- WalletHub and Nerd Wallet provide the VantageScore 3 based on the Transunion report.
NOTE: There are different FICO and VantageScore models. Think of it like a 2010 vs 2019 vehicle. It’s the same model and they both do the same job, but the 2019 model may have heated seats and a GPS. Those changes don’t affect the basic function of transportation. The FICO 9 scoring model was introduced in 2014 but lenders would have to buy the newer model so they may not have gotten it if they were making good lending decisions with their current model. This means that you can have the same credit report on the same day and have two different VantageScore or FICO scores because the lenders are using different models.
Why Sign Up?
Knowing your score—and being able to monitor it in real time—is a powerful tool. Your credit score not only determines whether you’ll be approved for a loan, but it also determines your interest rate. An interest rate that is just a few points lower can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
Another great reason to sign up for the free websites and apps is that they will notify you quickly when something is amiss as you will see your credit score drop suddenly. Monitor your score, stay on top of your credit history, and get approved more often while getting better rates- all great reasons to get those free accounts today!