How to Get Free Credit Reports

Written By Matthew Thompson
Last updated March 24, 2021

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Credit
March 19, 2021

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Knowing how to get free credit reports makes financial planning easier. If you haven’t looked at your credit scores or history recently, take the steps outlined below.

Your credit report influences many areas of your life. If you have a high credit score, you can often qualify for low-interest credit cards and loans. A low credit score, however, can force you to pay higher rates for:

  • Apartments
  • Utility deposits
  • Auto insurance
  • Mortgages
  • Personal loans
  • Auto loans
  • Student loans
  • Credit cards

If you have credit problems, you probably struggle financially. A low score makes it more difficult to change your financial profile and avoid additional costs. Knowing how to get free credit reports could save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

Having a low credit score doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve mishandled your finances. Unfortunately, creditors and credit bureaus make mistakes all the time. When those mistakes wind up in your credit history, they can lower your score and make you look irresponsible.

Some errors you could find on your credit report include:

  • Inaccurate information
  • Data duplication
  • Accounts you didn’t open (This is typically Identity theft caused by someone opening a fraudulent account under your name)

Mistakes can also appear for simple reasons, such as someone in your area having a name similar to yours. Regardless, you want to follow steps from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to correct the mistakes.

Reviewing your credit report at least once per year ensures you can identify and remove any costly, inaccurate items in your file.

The federal government lets you request a free credit report once per year. You can request your free report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

You can also request one free report every year from each of the three main credit reporting companies the government works with. These credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

Beware of Imposter Websites

Some criminals use phishing techniques to gather personal information from people who want to check their credit reports. Always double-check website addresses to make sure they’re legitimate.

Free credit reports should give you your official FICO score. If you want to compare items from multiple reports, you need to do one of these:

  • Order credit reports from all three bureaus
  • Choose a company that will give you comparative information
  • Choose a credit card or bank account that lets you track your score

The following four services make it easier to review your credit history, find mistakes and report errors.

Credit Karma

Credit Karma offers a convenient tool that lets you track your overall credit history and check your current credit report.

Don’t worry about Credit Karma doing a hard inquiry that can lower your score. Instead, it performs a soft credit check by reviewing your:

  • Personal information
  • Credit account information, such as credit cards, mortgages and auto loans
  • Public records that show late payments and delinquent accounts

Credit Karma’s tool also has a section that helps you correct inaccurate information on your report.

Experian

The government trusts Experian to provide credit reports and scores. It doesn’t have a tool that lets you challenge misinformation, but it does have an excellent reputation for accuracy. If someone has opened an account in your name, it will probably appear on your Experian credit report.

Borrowell

The Borrowell app has multiple tools to help you track your finances and financial health. Keep in mind, though, that it caters to Canadian consumers.

Borrowell members enjoy:

  • Free bill tracking
  • Help in selecting credit cards
  • Guidance on choosing personal loans and mortgages
  • Online insurance comparisons

Of course, you also get a free credit score with your account. If you want to learn how to get free credit reports in Canada, Borrowell can help you out in about three minutes.

CreditWise From Capital One

CreditWise From Capital One uses a system called VantageScore 3.0 to estimate your credit score. You can also use the app to receive alerts when something changes on your credit report. The app will even scan websites—including those on the dark web—to locate identity theft attempts.

CreditWise gives you a credit score simulation that might differ from your official FICO score. Still, it’s a simple, secure way to track your credit health for free.




Not everyone has time to request credit reports, scour them for inaccuracies and go through the multi-step process of correcting mistakes. Luckily, several companies offer legitimate credit report monitoring services that will do much of the hard work for you.

Before you use a credit report monitoring service, make sure it has reliable features that will protect your privacy and give you accurate information.

Some of the most important features include:

  • A free trial that lets you test the credit report monitoring service without making a commitment
  • Transparency that tells you how much money you will need to pay for the service (almost all trustworthy services charge for credit monitoring)
  • An affordable price that falls within industry standards (never pay more than $22 per month)
  • Flexible updates that let you choose how often you want a credit monitoring report and any additional services

Now that you know how to get free credit reports, take some time to look them over as soon as you can. If you notice a mistake or don’t recognize an item, follow the directions for disputing that item.

Make the most of your free reports and credit scores. These financial tools can help make you look like an attractive, low-risk individual to landlords, lenders and companies. And no matter what your score, always try to find a credit card that gives you the most benefit for your current financial situation.

About the Author

Matthew Thompson

With more than two decades of writing and optimization experience, I know how to keep readers engaged, mimic brand voices, and get first-page rankings on search engine results. I have written for companies in diverse industries, including emerging technologies, wellness, consumer apps, enterprise software, UI/UX, outsourcing, and education.

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