I happened across an article on Yahoo! Finance that I thought was very informative. It was titled “Where to Look for Free Information About Your Credit.” I was particularly attracted by the word “Free” as, well, free is hard to beat.
But there are limits
There are websites where you can get credit information free but they do have their limitations. Annualcreditreport.com is the government’s official website where you can get your credit reports free each year. You actually have three credit reports as there are three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. However, it’s important to understand that you’re not getting your credit scores. You’re only getting your credit reports. However, all three credit reporting bureaus will allow you to see your credit score – for a small fee.
The full report
Many websites will allow you to see a summary of your credit report from Experian but only the website Quizzle provides the complete report. If you want to access your credit report more than twice a year, you will have to enroll in a paid plan. Otherwise, you can get it free every six months. In addition, Quizzle allows you to see your CE score. However, be aware that this is not your FICO score. Plus, it’s not what your lenders will use when they decide whether or not to grant you credit. But this will give you at least a good idea of how creditworthy you are. Just as important, Quizzle will analyze your credit and provide tips as to how you could make it better.
Information from TransUnion
The website, CreditKarma.com provides a summary of your TransUnion credit report, along with what’s called your New Account Score. But, again, this won’t be the same as your FICO score. In addition, CreditKarma provides your Vantage Score. The three credit bureaus developed the model on which this score is based. It’s helpful in that it gives your credit a grade from “A” to “F” and has other useful features such as a credit scores simulator that will show you how certain things you do can affect your credit score.
This website is like Quizzle in that its information is based on your credit report from Experian. However, it does require you to purchase your credit report for nine dollars if you want complete access. You can get your Experian National Equivalency Score as wells as a summary of your credit condition. But, again, this is not the same one the creditors use. CreditSesame also has tips on services and products you could use to reduce the balances on your home loan and credit cards.
Not as good as it sounds
The website FreeCreditScore.com sounds like it would be a great choice. But what it offers is the Experian Plus Score. Seeing that score might be helpful but it isn’t the one lenders use when they decide how creditworthy you are. Another negative is that you must provide a credit card number when you sign up for your “free” credit score. You get a seven-day free trial. But after that, you must pay $14.95 a month.
Equifax does not have a free credit score service. To get your Equifax information you need to sign-up for a free trial and then enroll in a plan you must pay for . You just can’t find this information free anywhere – except via AnnualCreditReport.com.
The net/net here is that you should use AnnualCreditReport.com to get your credit reports free once a year. You could then use Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle throughout the year. They can’t give you your true FICO score. But the scores they provide should at least give you an idea as to whether you’re headed up or down, as well as things you could do that would improve your credit score.