How Get Your Free Credit Report

Get a Free Credit Report Each Year

Credit report overview
© SpiffyJ / E+ / Getty

Your credit report is one of the most important factors of your financial life. It contains a detailed history of your credit accounts including the date you opened the account, the current balance, and the payment history for the account.

Because so many businesses use your credit report to make decisions about you, it's important that you check your credit report at least once a year to be sure the information in your credit report is accurate.

Each of the major credit bureaus (the companies who compile your credit report) offers your credit report for sale, but there are instances that you can get a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus.

Once a Year Through

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) made it possible for you to get a free credit report. Through FACTA you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - each year. You should take advantage of this privilege by ordering your credit report and using it to monitor your credit history.

There are specific ways to get a free annual credit report that's allowed under the FACTA.

    Don't contact the credit bureaus automatically for your free annual credit report.

    Ordering Your Free FCRA Credit Report

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to a free credit report in certain circumstances. This is in addition to your free annual credit report.

    • You had an application denied because of information on your credit report. This includes credit, insurance, and employment applications. You have 60 days from the date you learn of the denial to ask for a copy of your credit report. The company will send you a notice that includes contact information for the credit bureau who provided the report used in making the decision.
    • You are unemployed and plan to begin looking for a job within 60 days.
    • You are on welfare
    • You are a victim of identity theft and have inaccurate information on your credit report

    State Free Credit Report Laws

    Some states have laws that allow you to get a free credit report in addition to the free annual credit report you're entitled to by Federal law.

    ColoradoFree, then $8One free per year
    GeorgiaFree, then $11.50Two free per year
    MaineFree, then $5One free per 12 months
    MarylandFree, then $5One free per 12 months
    MassachusettsFree, then $8One free per year
    New JerseyFree, then $8One free per 12 months
    Puerto RicoFree, then $11.50One free per 12 months
    VermontFree, then $7.50One free per 12 months

    The following states have reduced prices for credit reports.

    • California - $8
    • Connecticut - $5 for the first credit report each year, then $7.50.
    • Minnesota - $3 for the first credit report each year, then $11.50;
    • Montana - $8.50
    • Virgin Islands - $1

    You should order your free FCRA credit report or your free state credit report directly through the credit bureaus:

    Get a Free Credit Report With No Subscription or Credit Card

    In the past few years, several websites have begun offering at least one free credit report.

    These sites make money through advertising so they can offer you a credit report for free. Register with these sites to get a copy of your free credit report:

    These sites do not require you to enter a credit card number or enroll in a trial subscription to get your free credit report.

    What to Watch Out For

    Beware of sites that offer a free or discounted credit report, but request that you enter your credit card number to sign up for a free trial. These sites typically enroll you in a trial subscription to a credit monitoring service and begin charging you monthly if you don't cancel the subscription before the trial period ends.