Free Credit Reports 101: Why You Don’t Need To Pay For Your Credit Report

Free Credit Report

Don’t get suckered into paying for a copy of your credit report. There are lots of sites online that charge you for ordering a copy of your credit report and credit score… but you can get those for free online.

We’ve talked quite a bit about credit scores before, and seeing your credit report and score shouldn’t be too difficult. Getting a copy of both your credit score (a numerical score you receive that’s used to determine everything from your credit card interest rate to whether you get a mortgage or not) and your credit report (a long document which contains information about all your loans and what financial accounts you have might be easier than you thought.

Free Credit Reports: AnnualCreditReport

The easiest resource to use is AnnualCreditReport.com. This site, which is set up by credit bureaus TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, offers Americans free credit reports once a year.

PRO: The site is free, and offers credit reports from all three major agencies.

CON: AnnualCreditReport only offers credit reports once a year, doesn’t include credit scores, and has an interface that can be hard to use.

Free Credit Reports: Credit Karma

Credit Karma is a startup whose website offers free access to EquiFax and Transunion credit reports, as well as Vantage credit scores (the rival to the more frequently used FICO score).

PRO: Credit Karma has a great interface, is much easier to use than AnnualCreditReport, and even lets you file your taxes through the site.

CON: Credit Karma doesn’t offer Experian credit reports, and has an advertising-based profit model, which might turn off some frugality-minded users.

Free Credit Reports: Discover Credit Scorecard

Discover’s site Discover Credit Scorecard offers free access to Experian credit reports and FICO scores. Used in tandem with Credit Karma, it offers a complete picture of your credit report and score.

Despite Discover’s sponsorship, anyone can use it–you don’t have to be a Discover cardholder.

PRO: The easy-to-use site gives access to Experian credit reports and FICO scores.

CON: Credit Scorecard offers less information to users than its competitors.

Free Credit Reports: LexisNexis Disclosure

Although it’s not a credit report, strictly speaking, some landlords, insurance companies, and lenders look at your LexisNexis report in addition to your credit report.

LexisNexis is normally very expensive to access outside of being a college student or working at a large company, but LexisNexis have a pathway for you to find out what’s on file.

LexisNexis Disclosure is a program which lets you order a copy of your LexisNexis file. This information typically includes late payments, car accidents, evictions, landlord history, property records, court documents, criminal record, and a good deal of other things.

This information is then mailed to you after you verify your identity; it is not available online.

Have more advice on how to get a free credit score? Share it in the comments!