The 8 Best Free Credit Reports of 2020
You don't have to pay to see your entire credit history
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Your credit report contains a nearly complete record of your credit history. Many of your financial applications are based either directly or indirectly on the information in your credit report. It goes without saying that you want to be sure the information in your credit report is accurate.
It’s recommended that you check your credit report at least once a year to be sure there are no errors. The more often you can check your credit report the better. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to check your credit report for free. The best free credit reports don’t ask for any credit card information for sign-up and can easily be accessed online. When you’re checking your free credit report, make sure you’re accessing a secure website and read any fine print on the site. With that said, take a look below to see the best free credit reports we recommend using.
Best Overall: AnnualCreditReport.com
In 2003, a Federal law passed granting every consumer the right to a free report from all credit reporting agencies each year. AnnualCreditReport.com is the centralized site that allows every consumer can access their free credit report granted by Federal law. It’s the only website that allows you to access each of your credit reports from all three of the major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — at no cost. You can obtain one free credit report every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com, without signing up, creating an account, or entering your credit card information. Alternatively, you can call 1-877-322-822 to order your legally free credit report.
Credit reports are available as a PDF download or you can request to have your credit reports mailed to you. The downside is that you receive your full credit report, which hasn’t been formatted for user-friendliness. Depending on the length of your credit history and the number of accounts you’ve had, your credit reports can be dozens of pages each. You won’t receive a credit score with your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Best for Credit Monitoring: Credit Karma
Credit Karma has been around since 2006 and has partnered with two of the major credit bureaus — Equifax and TransUnion — to offer your free credit report. Because you can access two of your major credit reports, it’s the next best option to AnnualCreditReport.com. While you will have to create an account to use Credit Karma, you don’t have to enter your credit card information or remember to cancel any free trial subscription. You can access your credit reports at any time by logging into your account either directly through your web browser or through their mobile app. Your credit report information is updated as often as once per week, giving you continued access to changes in your credit information.
You’ll have access to your credit report information along with an explanation of the factors that are currently contributing to your credit score. Credit Karma also uses your free credit report information to show credit card and loan offers that you may qualify for based on your credit standing. You don’t have to take advantage of these offers if you’re not on the market for a new credit card or loan product.
Best for Single Bureau Access: Credit Sesame
Credit Sesame provides your TransUnion credit report information along with the factors affecting your credit the most. Like Credit Karma, you sign up by creating an account, but you won’t have to enter your credit card information. Once you’ve created an account, your membership gives you access to a monthly update of your credit information, but you can access your account at any time.
In addition to your TransUnion credit report information, you’ll also have access to your TransUnion credit score online or through the Credit Sesame mobile app. Reviewing your information often gives you an idea of where your credit stands and whether you need to improve your score. Credit Sesame analyzes your credit information to make recommendations for credit cards, loans, and other financial products, but you don’t have to apply if you’re not on the market for a new loan.
Easiest Sign-Up: NerdWallet
Sign up with NerdWallet and get access to your free TransUnion credit report. With Nerdwallet, your credit report details are refreshed weekly, but you can log on at any time to check your credit report information.
In addition to your free credit report, you’ll also be able to view your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report information. Your credit score is also updated on a weekly basis.
Registering is fairly simple. You can use your existing Google account and you only have to enter the last four digits of your social security to create your account. You can optionally use the Nerdwallet mobile app to quickly and easily monitor your credit report and other aspects of your finances when you’re on the go.
Best for Personalized Analysis: Bankrate
Bankrate gives you full, free access to your credit report information from TransUnion, with a unique layout that’s easier to understand than many other credit report services. Bankrate lays out your credit report information in a chronological timeline to show how your credit information has changed over a period of time. You can look over the history of your credit and pinpoint key areas that may have influenced your credit - for better or worse. As your credit report information changes, you can see how those changes may have changed your credit score and even isolate items in your credit report that could indicate a possibility of fraud.
Along with your free credit report, you’ll also get a free credit score and analysis of your score. The insights help you understand the factors affecting your credit score, see whether your credit score is trending up or down, and understand how your financial habits might affect your credit score.
Best for Improving Credit: CreditWise
You can check your TransUnion credit report and credit score through CreditWise, a credit report and credit score tool from Capital One. Credit Wise is available for free, even for those who aren’t Capital One customers. Sign up is simple and easy. You won’t have to enter any credit card information, there’s no trial subscription to cancel, and your credit information is updated weekly. You can access Credit Wise online or use the mobile app to keep up with your credit score.
CreditWise keeps you up to date with changes to your credit report and you'll even receive e-mail or push notifications about important credit events, which is great if you’re on the go and tend to forget to check your credit regularly. CreditWise includes a credit score simulator you can use to help determine how certain actions will affect your credit score so you can make informed financial decisions. For example, if you’re planning to open up a new credit card account, you can use the simulator to estimate how it will impact your credit score.
Best for Daily Updates: WalletHub
Your credit report information can change frequently as your creditors send in updates to the credit bureaus. Weekly or monthly updates can keep you a bit out of touch with your credit report details. WalletHub is the only site that provides free daily updates to your full credit report information along with a summary of important changes to your credit information. You’ll have the most updated information from your TransUnion credit report, allowing you to act quickly to changes or suspicious activity on your credit report. WalletHub also provides personalized credit advice based specifically on your credit information.
In addition to your free credit report, you’ll also have access to your free credit score, which allows you to quickly see where your credit stands and how potential lenders might view your credit risk. There’s no credit card necessary to sign up and you won’t damage your credit by using the service, even if you check your credit report every day.
What is a Credit Report?
Your credit report is a collection of account history from companies you’ve created a credit account with, or companies your creditors have designated to collect on their behalf. The information in your credit report helps new creditors and lenders decide whether to do business with you and the appropriate cost to charge you.
Why You Should Check Your Credit Report
Mistakes happen. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission estimates that one in five consumers has at least one error on their credit report. These errors can affect your ability to get approved or cause you to pay higher rates when you are approved. The only way to verify that your credit report contains the right information is to review the information on an ongoing basis.
Are Free Credit Reports Worth it?
Purchasing your credit reports can get expensive, especially if you need to review your credit report multiple times a year. Accessing a free credit report allows you to stay on top of your credit without the hefty price tag. Plus, you can use more than one free credit report service at a time for a comprehensive look at your credit across all three major credit bureaus.
How We Chose the Best Free Credit Reports?
We evaluated chose the best free credit reports based on a few factors: the number of credit reports you can access, the frequency of updates, the ease of understanding the information, the ease of signing up for a new account, and whether a free credit score or analysis was also included. We excluded any companies that required credit card information to sign up or that only offered a free credit report on a trial basis.