Getting Your Credit Report and Score for Free
The dawning of the new year marks a popular time for people to make new resolutions. And one good financial resolution to make would be to check your credit report and score on a regular basis. These days, there are fewer excuses remaining to not be doing this. Not only are there reports of data breaches happening seemingly every month–the latest being from Chick-fil-A–but it’s now easier than ever for consumers to get a hold of their credit report and score for free.
For years, consumers have been able to get a free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company, as mandated by federal law from AnnualCreditReport.com. In addition, consumers now they also have many other sources for their credit file.
As required by federal law, you can get a free credit report from each credit reporting agency (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) once every 12 months. You can request them either online at AnnualCreditReport.com, by phone at 877-322-8228 or by mail by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form and sending it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Note that your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com does not include a credit score. You can either pay to get your score (not recommended) or use one of the other sources mentioned later in this post.
Since you can get one report from each credit reporting agency every 12 months, that entitles you to 3 free reports per year. So, you can either request all 3 at the same time, to determine whether any of your files have errors, or you can space your 3 requests throughout the year, so that you can monitor your credit file over time for any changes.
If you live in one of seven states–Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont–you’re also entitled to an additional free credit report from each reporting agency, for a total of 6 free credit reports per year!
Your bank or credit card company
Over the past year, many credit card issuers–including Citi, Discover, Barclaycard, FNBO, Sallie Mae and Pentagon Federal Credit Union–have announced that they will offer free credit scores to their credit card customers.
Citi will begin offering this service to its cardmembers beginning this month. When consumers with Citi-branded credit cards log into their online accounts, they will be able to see their credit scores, based on their Equifax credit report.
Discover, Barclaycard, FNBO and Sallie Mae already offer this feature to many cardmembers. Discover it® cardmembers can view their free FICO scores from TransUnion on their monthly statements, provided either through the mail or online. Barclaycard Ring, Barclaycard Arrival, Barclaycard Rewards, Juniper, Frontier and Carnival cardmembers can opt-in to access their FICO score by logging into their online Barclaycard account. FNBO cardmembers can also access their FICO score by logging into their FNBO online account.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union also offers a free credit score, pulled once per quarter, to its members that is available to view when members log into their account online.
Credit management websites
Various credit management websites also offer another way to access your credit report and score for free.
Credit Karma announced last week that they are now providing free copies of your Equifax credit report and score, in addition to the TransUnion credit report and scores they already provided. These reports, updated weekly, can be viewed by consumers as often as they like.
Other credit management sites, such as CreditSesame.com and Quizzle.com also provide similar information for free. Credit Sesame allows consumers to access their credit report and score from Experian for free, while Quizzle offers a free credit report and score from Equifax.
While these websites offer their services at no charge, when joining these sites, you should expect that they will try to pitch various loans and credit cards to you, as that is the way they make their money. They also require that consumers provide their personal information, such as name, address and social security number, in order to register.
It’s also important to remember that you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report whenever you applied for a loan or credit card and were either denied or received less favorable interest rates or lending terms than you sought. If you were denied credit, you should receive an adverse action letter that includes details about the reason or reasons why you were denied and the contact information of the credit bureau that provided the credit report. You then have 60 days to order your free credit report.
It’s probably not the circumstances under which you want to receive your report, but it’s still a good policy to order it, to make sure that there are no errors on the report and that the loan decision was made using accurate information.