To get a free credit report, consumers can use one of many free credit report websites that work with the credit bureaus, such as WalletHub. Everyone also is entitled to a free annual credit report from each major credit bureau through the government-sponsored site AnnualCreditReport.com.
Getting a free credit report is usually quick and easy, and it’s important to take advantage of this service. Looking at your credit report on a regular basis keeps you informed about your credit history, and it gives you the opportunity to immediately correct any errors that might appear. You can learn more about how to get free credit reports and the benefit of doing so below.
- Sign up for a free WalletHub account.
- Enter some basic personal information and set an account password.
- Log in to your account.
- Click on the “Credit Report” tab at the top right.
- Set the slider to “Full Report.” You can also see your “Credit Timeline,” which is a simple summary of notable events.
Using WalletHub, the first website to offer free credit reports and scores that are updated on a daily basis, is one of the easiest and best ways to check your credit report for free. WalletHub also provides an early-warning system for credit-report changes in the form of 24/7 credit monitoring, plus customized guidance to help you save more money.
WalletHub isn’t the only place you can get a free credit report, though. The most important alternative is AnnualCreditReport.com, the government-sponsored site where we all can get a copy of each of our three major credit reports every 12 months. While WalletHub provides unlimited access to your full TransUnion credit report, updated daily, you can use AnnualCreditReport.com to review your other two reports, from Experian and Equifax, as well.
How to Get a Free Annual Credit Report:
- Online: Visit AnnualCreditReport.com and click on “Request Your Free Credit Reports,” then fill out the request form, which will require your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. Then, choose which bureau(s) you want a report from to view them online.
- By phone: Call 1-877-322-8228 and press 1, then follow the prompts. You will need to provide the same information as the online method.
- By mail: Print and fill out the Annual Credit Report Request Form. Then, mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service / PO Box 105281 / Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
If you get a report from AnnualCreditReport.com, it’s best not to check your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion reports all at the same time. Review one of them now, and save the others for later, spreading them out across the year. Pulling your reports in rotation will help you ensure that you’re not missing anything for an extended period of time.
Just bear in mind that using only AnnualCreditReport.com would be a mistake, as it would normally blind you to credit-report changes for much of the year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, all three credit bureaus are offering free reports weekly (rather than annually) on AnnualCreditReport.com through April 2021.
While WalletHub and AnnualCreditReport.com are the best options for getting a free credit report, there are plenty of other choices, too.
|Company||Credit-Bureau Source||Frequency of Report Update||Average User Rating||Free Credit Score Provided?||24/7 Credit Monitoring Provided?|
|Quizzle||TransUnion||Every 3 Months||4.3 Stars||Yes||Yes|
A number of other services offer credit report access as part of a paid package. We don’t recommend using them simply because there are so many free alternatives, but you can learn all about your options from our full comparison of the best credit report sites.
A lot of people think that checking their credit score once in a while or just a short period before they apply for credit is enough to get by, and many others don’t even think that far. The truth is that you’re bound to miss a lot if you don’t review at least one of your credit reports on a regular basis. That’s problematic because what you don’t know about your credit can – and will – cost you.
Credit Bureaus Make Mistakes
Roughly one in four of us has a mistake on one of our major credit reports that is significant enough to result in rejection by a lender, landlord, insurer, employer or other type of creditor, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission. Plus, even if you do get approved for a loan or line of credit despite this disadvantage, you’ll wind up needlessly wasting money on a worse offer than you truly deserve.
In other words, taking a few minutes to make sure your credit report is accurate – especially if your credit score isn’t excellent – is an investment that could save you big in terms of both time and money in the long run. If you find an error, you should dispute it right away.
Credit Reports Can Reveal Fraud
Financial fraud can take many forms, most of which will show on your credit report before anywhere else. The warning sign could be something as clear as an unknown account being opened in your name, a bankruptcy filing showing up in your public records or a collections account appearing unexpectedly. Or, it could be something as simple as a change to your listed name and address.
You might not notice signs of fraud if you don’t check your credit report regularly. You might even become a victim of identity theft. That’s why even if you’re not planning on applying for any credit or loans, you should still review your credit reports at least once a year. You should also make sure that your free-credit-report provider offers free 24/7 credit monitoring, too (like WalletHub!).
Improvement Requires Reflection
Reviewing your credit report will give you much-needed perspective, making it easier to determine what you’re doing right (e.g., on-time monthly payments) as well as which areas of your financial performance need improvement (e.g., high credit utilization). Both the good and the bad will inevitably affect your credit score, but they have to hit your credit report first, and they’ll be easier to diagnose when they’re there. WalletHub makes things easy on you by grading each component of your credit, telling you exactly where you’re excelling and lacking.
Some of these reasons are relevant all the time; others matter most when you’re planning to apply for a financial product. A mistake on your credit report could cost you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a mortgage, for instance. Therefore, while you should try to review your report as regularly as possible, you should be extra thorough in the months leading up to a loan or credit card application.
TransUnion, Experian and Equifax aren’t the only credit reporting agencies that track your financial performance. Tens of other companies across the country maintain data on your rent payments, check-writing history and insurance claims. Along with traditional credit data, this alternative information is then factored into the decisions made by financial institutions, landlords, employers and insurers.
Fortunately, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) entitles consumers to free annual copies of these “specialty” reports. You can order them directly from the companies that compile them, and you can find contact information for each one in WalletHub’s Credit Reporting Agency Overview.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get a free credit report these days. But we could all stand to make some improvements in terms of how often we check and what we do with the information. So WalletHub convened a panel of personal finance experts for some tips and insights. Below, you can see who they are, what we asked them and how they recommend getting more from your free credit reports.
- Do you think the average person knows how to get a free credit report?
- Considering that credit reports are free, why don't people check them more often?
- When you get your free credit report, what's the most important thing to do next?
- Should people only get their credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com?
- What are the downsides of checking your credit report no more than three times per year?