How to Check Your Credit Report for Free
Obtain a Free Copy of Your Credit Report Today
Excellent (800+) and good (670+) credit scores can provide you with a world of access to all kinds of things - including saving a ton of money on interest rates. Having access and knowing how to obtain a free copy of your credit report is a powerful resource for helping you meet and exceed your financial goals. Additionally, understanding your score thoroughly before applying for a credit card, mortgage, personal loan, or other financial product is essential practice in the ongoing process of perfecting your credit.
It's important to know that your credit score differs from your credit report, and why. Three big credit-reporting bureaus play a significant role in consumer credit across the United States: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These companies collect and manage US consumer data related to credit and other payment obligations to determine credibility ratings.
Information about your credit and payment obligations are issued in the form of a credit report which contains details about your credit activity and current credit situation. It includes personal information (name, address, Social Security Number), credit accounts (payment history, credit limit, account balance), public records (liens, bankruptcies, foreclosures), and inquiries into your credit. Based on an algorithm using your credit report's data, your three-digit financial number, i.e., your credit score, is determined.
Two Credit Scores Models
Two scoring models provide consumer credit scores - VantageScore and FICO score. Each of these vary in how they calculate and report your score. They also offer unique versions of scoring models designed for speciliazed use across a variety of industries. Both scoring models contain the key factors impacting your credit and estimate your current standing, as well as your perceived worthiness for a new credit product.
Usually, FICO Scores are more popular with lenders and are the most widely used scoring models. As a result, you can almost be sure that most institutions will be looking at your FICO score to determine creditworthiness.
Free Resources to Check Your Credit Score
While there are various businesses offering paid services with deep access and multitudes of styles and types of reports, there are also numerous ways to get your credit report for free. In fact, most banks and card issuers offer cardholders free access to their FICO score either online or from their mobile banking apps. The most popular and common banking institutions who allow you to check your credit report for free as a part of their services are:
- American Express credit cards
- Bank of America credit cards
- Citi Credit cards
- Discover credit cards
- Wells Fargo credit cards
Among the completely free resources that you can use to check your FICO Score are the following:
There are even free credit score resources that include simulators. These simulators allow you to simulate changes to various aspects of your credit to predict what your score could or would be under certain circumstances - or how your financial behavior may affect your credit, along with helpful tips for improving your score. These services include:
- CreditWise from Capital One: Free VantageScore from TransUnion
- Chase Credit Journey: Free VantageScore from TransUnion
- Discover Credit Scorecard: Free FICO Score from Experian
If you have any type of popular credit card or any of those listed above, the easiest way you can check your credit score is by logging into your credit card issuer’s site and utilizing their credit tools. With these tools your score is not negatively impacted, regardless of how much you use them - they do not equate to a "hard pull" as they're not the same as a full report.
Reviewing your credit score frequently, learning the various aspects of how ratings are calculated, and keeping a watchful eye on how your spending and payment habits reflect your score over a period of time will help you understand your financial behavior and develop good habits to ensure your accounts remain in good standing and without errors.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial hardships that many have suffered, it is easier now than ever to check your credit score. Why? Because generally, you are only entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year, which you can access at AnnualCreditReport.com. However, since last year, all three national agencies provided free weekly access to complete credit reports (and now are extending) free credit report monitoring until at least April 20, 2022. UPDATE: All companies have extended free weekly access to a completely free report through the end of 2023.
Interested in understanding more about credit reports and increasing your score? Use one of the methods above to get your free credit report, and then learn how to improve your credit fast with AU tradelines today.
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