Annual credit report reviews are extremely important!
Searching for your credit report and score can be confusing. Dozens of sites offer a free report but can you trust them. We provide reviews on the top free credit sites as well as articles to help guide you through the process. Please check back with us often as this site is a work in progress.
Can You Really Get Annual Credit Report Reviews for Free?
At some point in your life, you will wonder what your credit score is. There are dozens of websites offering to provide your score free of charge but then you find they end up trying to charge you. They most often require you to purchase their monitoring service in order to get your free report.
So legally what are you entitled to?
By law, consumers are entitled to receive 1 free report each year. A credit report is simply a record of your loan, borrowing and repayment history. However, most companies are not going to read the entire report. So the agencies created a numerical score derived from these reports. These scores are critical when applying for credit and these scores are not included in the required “free credit report” that you get each year. They normally charge for these.
The good news is that there are a handful of sites that have launched services that give consumers at least a glimpse at their credit scores for free. The sites are:
- -> Credit.com
- -> CreditKarma.com
- -> Quizzle.com
They offer a basic understanding of the key components that go into calculating your score. They also show you what you can do to improve them and how your credit stacks up against others. We especially like Credit.com’s new Credit Report Card that shows consumers how they’re likely to rate across five credit-scoring models.
All of the above-mentioned sites aim to make money through advertising or fees if users sign up for products that they or their partners offer on the site. These products include credit-monitoring services, credit cards or mortgages.
So how are credit scores used?
As banks tighten requirements on lending, it’s critical to know your credit score. Financial institutions use them to determine the approvals and interest rates on everything from credit and insurance to cellphone usage and, in some cases, employment. For years, the best way consumers could get their scores was to buy them from one of the three major credit-reporting bureaus— Equifax Inc., Experian Group, and TransUnion—or from Fair Isaac Corp., the maker of the widely used FICO credit score.
The bureaus also offer a truly free credit report at the site AnnualCreditReport.com but you can only get 1 every 12 months. To get your score, you have to pay for them separately which is usually about $8 each.
The reports provide detailed account history and can be a little hard to decipher. And even if you pay for a numerical score, which financial-services companies use as a quick way to assess your creditworthiness—the information can be confusing.
There is disparity among credit scores, depending on which scoring model is being used and which credit bureau the data are pulled from. Lenders can choose from FICO, the VantageScore (a score developed by the three credit bureaus) or from any one of the credit bureaus’ own scores.
To learn more about each service, check out our annual credit report reviews.