If you ever wondered, “what is the best site to get a free credit report“, this post is for you.
In the U.S., there are three major credit reporting agencies, which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These are three national credit bureaus, which capture, update, and store credit histories on U.S. consumers.
Your credit report includes an almost complete record of your credit history.
Credit reports may affect your credit card approvals, mortgage rates, apartment requests or even your job application.
The thing is information on your report can actually be inaccurate.
A study by the FTC found that 5% of consumers had errors on their credit history.
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That’s why checking your credit report is so important.
But it can be expensive, especially if you want to check it often.
There are lots of places where you can get a credit report for free though!
What will I learn?
Best Free Credit Report Sites
In this post, I’m going to cover some awesome sites where you can get a free credit report.
Then, I’ll cover what your report is, why it’s so important, and why checking it can help your finances!
Now, it’s important to note that a credit report is a different thing entirely to your credit score. I explain this difference below. If you want to know how they differ, just skip to the “What’s the difference between a credit report and a credit score” section on the table of contents above.
Now here are the best sites for no cost reports!
AnnualCreditReport.com: Best overall
Look on any personal finance related forums and blogs and one of the top comments seems to be “what is the free credit report site from the government”. While the U.S. government doesn’t have a dedicated site for it, they always recommend AnnualCreditReport.com.
The best and most legit place to get your report at no cost is AnnualCreditReport.com.
The site is jointly operated by the three major U.S. credit reporting agencies that I mentioned above – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
So basically, it’s a single site where you can ask for all three of your free credit reports.
Thanks to The Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide cit report from each credit reporting companies.
This allows you to ensure that the information on all of your reports is correct and up to date.
You can request all three of your reports at once, or you can choose to space them out over the course of a year.
You can request your free annual credit report in 3 ways:
- Online: Visit annualcreditreport.com
- By Phone: call 1-877-322-8228.
- By Mail: Complete this form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
The only downside to AnnualCreditReport.com is that you can only get your report from each company once a year.
You may want to check your report more often than that, which brings me to the next site on the list…
Credit Karma: Best for staying up to date with your report
Next on our list is Credit Karma (review). This website offers free credit scores and credit reports.
If offers reports from two of the major credit bureaus: TransUnion and Equifax.
Just create your account, and Credit Karma will pull your reports from TransUnion and Equifax.
What I like about the site is that it will highlight important items to help make the reports easier to understand.
Another bonus of the site is that your reports can be updated weekly, and you can check them as often as you want!
It also shows your credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax, along with a breakdown of factors that can impact your credit score.
The site also shows you offers that could save you money, such as lower interest credit cards and loans.
Then, if you take an offer from one of the site’s advertising partners, it makes money. You don’t have to take the site’s offers though.
The fact that the site will also send you alerts if anything important changes on your TransUnion or Equifax credit reports is also a great feature of Credit Karma.
Credit Sesame: Best for credit monitoring and advice
Credit Sesame (review) gives you a free credit score and a credit report card. The site obtains your credit information from TransUnion, which allows you to keep track of your debts, credit accounts, and other credit report factors.
That’s really handy!
There’s no credit card required to sign up for a Credit Sesame account, which is awesome!
Credit Sesame’s analytic engine peruses your credit and debt situation on a daily basis and advises you on the amount you can save on loans, mortgages, credit cards and more.
It also offers credit monitoring, which is great. You get a monthly credit score update and credit monitoring from TransUnion.
A free Credit Sesame account uses information from TransUnion, but if you want to get a report from all three bureaus, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium Credit Sesame plan – which isn’t free.
NerdWallet: Best for ease of use
Next up, we have NerdWallet.
It provides an easy-to-read free credit report.
What I like about NerdWallet is that it makes getting your credit report really easy. Signing up is so quick to do – so if you’re busy and are just looking for a simple look at your report, then NerdWallet is the website for you.
With the site, you can see your credit information and history in one place. The site can even help you to unlock better rates on loans, mortgages and credit cards.
You can review your payment history, how much credit you’re using, and the status of your credit card, mortgage and installment accounts. You can see your balances and most debt.
You can see your credit report any time. There’s no credit card required to sign up to the site and get your report, which is awesome.
Just sign up to the site at no cost, and you can access your TransUnion credit report. It’s updated weekly!
You can also view your credit score. It’s updated every seven days.
CreditWise from Capital One: Best for monitoring and building your credit
With CreditWise from Capital One, you can get a free credit score and report from TransUnion.
The site is great for keeping up with your credit. It sends you email alerts whenever your TransUnion credit report changes, including recent inquiries, delinquent accounts and more.
You can also monitor your credit information with CreditWise. It tracks your SNN, scans the dark web, and sends you automatic alerts from two credit bureaus – for free.
What makes the site stand out as one of the best though is that is also has a Simulator tool that you can use to explore the potential impact of your financial decisions before you make them. This can help you to build your credit.
WalletHub: Best for daily updates
If it’s daily updates you’re looking for, then give WalletHub a try. It offers free credit scores and reports that are updated daily!
Since it does provide daily updates, you can spot errors, signs of fraud and money-saving opportunities as soon as they appear.
You can even get your report on the go with the WalletHub app.
It also provides detailed credit monitoring and credit improvement, with credit advice tailored to your needs. It offers 24/7 credit monitoring and the site will notify you of important changes.
It’s totally free to sign up to the site, with no credit card information required.
What’s a Credit Report?
A credit report gives you a comprehensive list of your lines of credit and payment history. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, those three major credit-reporting companies I mentioned above, compile these credit reports.
Now, reports often include many pages, as they detail all the accounts that you’ve had.
When you make a payment on a credit card or loan, the business that gave you that loan or credit keeps a record of how much you pay and how often you make payments, as well as the credit limit and loan balances. Those businesses and other sources will report your credit, loan, and payment history to the three major credit reporting companies.
Each of the credit reporting companies combine this information into a credit report. These companies prepare reports for people in the US.
The information on your reports may vary, as not all businesses report to all three credit reporting companies.
So, business one for example, might only report to Equifax and TransUnion, whereas, business two might report to just Experian and TransUnion.
What’s on Your Credit Report?
Credit reports often run to many pages, because they provide a lot of detail on all the accounts you’ve ever opened or closed, the loans you’ve taken out, and how diligent you were with payments. Also, they can show if you’re ever been sued over debt or filed for bankruptcy.
Here’s what your credit report may include:
- A list of the businesses that have given you credit or loans.
- The amount of each loan or credit limit for each credit card.
- The number of times you paid your credit or loans on time, and how much you paid.
- Any missed or late payments, as well as bad debts.
- A list of businesses that have obtained your report within a certain time period.
- Your current and former names, addresses, and/or employers.
- Any bankruptcies or other public record information.
What’s the Difference Between a Credit Score & a Report?
Your credit report is not the same thing as your credit score.
A credit report offers information about your credit history.
On the other hand, your credit score is a number that lenders use to evaluate how safe or risky you are as a customer.
Basically, your credit score helps loan and credit providers to make lending decisions.
The most common score used to make credit decisions is the FICO score. This comes in multiple versions – many of them are specialty scores for specific products, like credit cards or auto loans. Another one that’s used in lending decisions is VantageScore.
So, your credit score is calculated based on the information in your credit report.
Important factors include:
- Your repayment history.
- How much money you owe compared to your credit limits – this is called the credit utilization ratio.
- How often you have applied for credit recently – this is known as a “hard inquiry,” but more on that below.
- How long you’ve had credit accounts. Or the age of credit.
- The types of credit you have. So this could be the type of credit with fixed payments, like an auto loan, or credit with variable payments, such as a credit card.
What’s my credit score used for?
Virtually all of your major life purchases depend on it. Whether you’re buying a house, car or getting a business loan your report is what lenders look at first.
Businesses use credit scores to estimate how likely you are to pay back loans. So, if you have a higher credit score, the company may believe you to be more likely to pay back your debts. On the other hand, a bank may determine that people with lower credit scores may be less likely to pay their debts.
Your credit score is calculated by putting the information in your credit report into a credit score formula.
You can have multiple credit scores based on who provided your score, and whether the company who provided the score used their own scoring model or one from a third party.
Since there are many different formulas used to calculate credit scores, this may lead to differences in your credit scores.
Also, business don’t always report to every credit reporting company as I mentioned above. And even if they do, they may send their information on different days.
So, on any given day, the information that one credit reporting company has, may differ from the credit activity that’s being reported to another reporting company.
This means that it’s important to keep in mind that credit scores you get from different companies will not be the same.
While the law requires you to get a report from each of the major credit reporting companies for free every year, it does not require these companies to give you a free credit score.
Why your report is important
The information on your report is used to calculate your score. Banks consider your credit history when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card, mortgage, auto loan, or other type of loan.
That’s not all though.
Many landlords will look at your credit when deciding to rent to you.
This means that your credit can have a big impact on many areas of your life.
If your credit isn’t good enough, it can stop you from getting a credit card or a mortgage for example.
Why check your credit report?
Checking your report is so important!
Like I said above, the FTC estimates that about one in five consumers have at least one error on their credit report.
If you have an error on yours, it could affect your ability to get approved or result in you having to pay higher rates if you are approved.
The only way you can make sure that the information on your credit report is accurate is to check it often.
That’s why the sites above are so good.
They allow you to check your credit report often. In the case of some of the sites, you can check your report weekly or even daily!
When you check your report, you can make sure that there are no errors, and that it contains the right information.
When your report is accurate, it can really help you in everything from getting approved for a loan to renting a new apartment.
Does checking your credit report lower your credit score?
Okay, so above, I said that checking your report often is important.
Some people worry though that when they check their report, it will lower their credit score.
That’s understandable. Some actions do indeed lower your credit score.
For example, applying for a loan or line of credit will temporarily lower your score.
That’s because this type of action is known as a “hard inquiry.”
On the other hand, checking your credit report will NOT lower your score or hurt your credit in any way.
This is because this type of action is known as a “soft inquiry.”
Soft inquiries do NOT hurt your credit score.
This means that you can check your credit report and score without having to worry about it affecting your future credit.
So Which Site is the Best?
The best free credit report site is the one that best suits your needs.
Honestly, I’d go with AnnualCreditReport.com because you can check your report from all three of the major credit reporting companies.
The only downside though is that you can only view your report from each company once per year.
If you’re looking to take a look at your report more often than that, then Credit Karma and WalletHub are awesome, allowing you to check your report weekly and daily, respectively.
The other sites on the list also offer benefits, from convenience in the case of NerdWallet to credit monitoring in the case of CreditWise from Capital One.
Give these sites a try and ensure that your credit report contains the right information.
Where’s your favorite place to stay up to date with your credit history and score?
Let us know in the comments section below.