Your credit report is like your resume for your financial life. It provides a detailed history of all your financial decisions, moves, payments. This is a financial report card of sorts is then used to formulate your credit score. Your credit score and history are now used for everything from buying a house or car, to opening a credit card, and getting life insurance. Are you wondering how to check credit history? Did you know there are sites where you can get a free credit report? Read on to learn all about these free credit report sites.
Credit Reporting Agencies
There are three major credit reporting agencies to be aware of. They include:
Each of these agencies is available to businesses or you to check a credit score. For example, if you want to buy a new washing machine. You are in the store applying for a credit card. They will run a scan through one of these agencies, who then puts together a credit report. It will also give your FICO credit score. The credit score is calculated using information from the credit report.
The store uses this information to decide if you are worthy of a line of credit to make your purchase. Your credit report will include information in four categories. These include:
Personally Identifiable Information
This is the personal information about you that connects you to your financial history. This would include your name, other names you have gone by, address, birth date, and social security number. When looking at your credit report, you want to be sure this information is accurate so you aren’t confused with another person and get their credit mixed in with yours.
The credit accounts section identifies all the current or past credit accounts you have had. So, if you have a mortgage loan, a car loan, and a variety of credit cards, these would all be listed here. It will also show your payment history for these accounts as well as how much credit you have available.
Credit inquiries are those times, like the washing machine example above, where someone else has checked on your credit score. Credit inquiries can be made as a soft inquiry where the check doesn’t impact your overall score. They can also have inquiries where the check could impact your overall score.
Public Records and Collections
This would show any official public records like bankruptcy that has been filed and connected to you. If there has been legal collection action taken against you, this would also show here too.
Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion provide free credit reports one time per year to individuals upon request. Beyond that, these three agencies are paid by businesses to get information about people they want to give credit to. Businesses and financial lenders also report to them the information so they can keep the credit reports filled with current information. For individuals seeking their credit report, there are several best free credit report sites available. Let’s dive into some of the options.
There was a federal law passed in 2003 that mandates you get one free report each year. AnnualCreditReport.com is the site where you can go to get your free report. This is the best credit score site because they will pull credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies. Remember, those credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This is the centralized site that you get that free report from for all those agencies. You don’t have to create an account, sign up, or give a credit card on this site. You can go and get your free credit report once a year. You can also call 1-877-322-822 to access your free credit report. The reports from this site are downloadable PDF files or request they be mailed to you directly. The caveat to this site is that you are not provided with your credit score where you can get a free credit report.
Credit Sesame works exclusively with TransUnion. Credit Sesame offers a free monthly report based on information from TransUnion. They also provide information about what factors are impacting your credit score. You must sign up for an account. However, you don’t need to provide them with a credit card or worry about a subscription. Your account is accessible at any time on Credit Sesame but they provide you with one free report a month. One added feature for Credit Sesame is that not only do you get the credit report, you can also get your credit score. Your free credit report with score can be accessed online at their site or by using their app.
Credit Wise is another source for both a free credit report and free credit score that is updated weekly. Credit Wise uses the TransUnion credit reporting agency for their information. Capital One customers automatically get access to Credit Wise with their accounts. Yet, you don’t have to be a Capital One customer to use Credit Wise. You can sign up for an account but do not need to provide a credit card number for access. In addition, you don’t have to worry about a subscription. One nice feature of Credit Wise is the information provided by the free credit report and credit score. They will email you with any changes and provide push notifications about changes too. They also have what they call a credit score simulator. It helps you to see how certain actions related to your credit would impact your score overall.
Identity Force offers a free 14-day free trial to its services, including both UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit services. If you did not cancel before the 14 days were up, you would be charged between $17.95 and $23.95, depending on the plan you select. In addition to the initial free credit report, UltraSecure offers credit monitoring services. The UltraSecure+Credit services provide personalized credit reports too. More on credit monitoring later.
Identity Guard is another paying service that sometimes offers a 30 day free trial. You can cancel up to the 30-day mark free of charge. The credit report is free during this time period.
Identity Guard also offers credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. These range in price between $7.50 and $25 per month. The features during the free month are worth noting. You get three credit reports from all three reporting agencies. Identity Guard provides analysis from the report about what is impacting your credit score.
- Lost wallet protection
- Address change alerts
- $1 million in identity theft protection
- Public record monitoring
They have free toll-free and unlimited customer service available to customers too.
Unlike many of the other options, Quizzle uses Equifax for their free credit report. They don’t require the use of a credit card to set up an account to access the free credit report. Quizzle gives you a free Equifax credit report every six months. They provide VantageScore updates. They also provide a breakdown of when an account was opened and information about the account. Quizzle is pretty open about making recommendations for products based on the information in your credit report. Their financial advice is connected to some of the companies they partner with.
Free Credit Reports vs Credit Monitoring
While all of these free credit reports offer consumers an important opportunity, you must be actively involved in the process. All of these agencies allow you to come in and monitor reports for changes or potentially fraudulent activity. You must take responsibility for regular monitoring. Many of them also offer credit monitoring services. With credit monitoring services, they monitor your account. They watch for changes and potential fraud and they will notify you. You pay for credit monitoring services. Yet, if you’re a person who is not good at monitoring your credit, these are worth researching.
Understanding How to Check Credit History
Knowing how to check credit history and keep track of what’s happening with your credit is a necessity for good financial health. After all, so many things are connected to having a good credit score. Use one or more of these free sites to look at your credit report regularly. For more information on credit monitoring services, be sure to visit our page.