Monitoring your credit report is an essential part of your financial health. What is in your credit report determines which credit cards you can get and what interest rates you are offered on loans. But it also influences if you can get a cell phone and what you pay for your car insurance. Seeing your credit score tick up with consistent responsible use of credit can be gratifying. And spotting and fixing errors in your credit report can save you thousands of dollars. Fortunately, you can check your credit report for free.
There are many services that allow you to check your credit report for free, but most come with some sort of catch. You might have to hold a credit card with a specific issuer. You might get only limited access to your credit report. Or you might be aggressively up-sold into a paid service. And most services only show you your credit report from one of the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
If you want to keep track of what is happening on your credit report, here are the three services that I recommend. All of these give you access a free credit report and score. And there are options below for viewing all three of your credit reports.
CreditWise from Capital One
CreditWise from Capital One is by far the option I recommend most to check your credit report for free. The service is available to everyone, even if you don’t have a credit card from Capital One. Probably the thing I like most about CreditWise is that it doesn’t try to upsell you into a paid service. There is no paid tier of CreditWise and CapitalOne doesn’t aggressively cross-sell its credit cards on the site.
The service uses your TransUnion credit report to give you a VantageScore. While most lenders and credit card issuers use a variant of FICO, another credit scoring system, the VantageScore can provide a indicator of your credit health. The score you get from CreditWise will typically correlate with the score that lenders use.
CreditWise lets you see a summary of your credit report, including a breakdown of your credit balances, the number of inquiries on your report and recent updates. If you want to drill down into the details of your report, you can see payment history, reported credit limits and other details of each account. CreditWise even gives you helpful tips for improving your credit or disputing inaccurate information. Finally, if you apply for a lot of credit cards and want to check your 5/24 status, CreditWise is a useful tool. It is one of the services that lets you check your 5/24 status easily.
If you use one service to keep tabs on your credit generally, CreditWise is a great choice.
Credit Karma is one of the longest-standing services providing free credit reports and scores. The service is free and gives you access to a lot of good information. But they do try to cross-sell you on credit cards, auto insurance, personal loans, life insurance and other financial services.
Like CreditWise, Credit Karma gives you a VantageScore, but you get your VantageScore from both TransUnion and Equifax. You also get access to your credit reports from both TransUnion and Equifax and can dig into account details. Probably the nicest feature of Credit Karma is that, if you find inaccurate information in your credit report, you can submit disputes right from the Credit Karma website. Another interesting feature is that you can view your historical credit reports. But there’s probably little value in seeing what was on your credit report six months ago.
Credit Karma gives you access to both your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports. The service is free, but be aware that the site may not always show the best deal for products like credit cards and insurance.
If you want to monitor all three of your credit reports, you’re probably going to have to get your Experian credit report directly from Experian. Experian offers a free Experian credit report and FICO score, but there is a downside. Experian aggressively tries to upsell you into paid services. If you use their service, you’ll be continuously bombarded by offers to trial (and then pay for) premium services. But you don’t have to pay for anything; you can use their service to see your credit score and Experian report for free.
Experian offers access to both your credit report and a FICO score, calculated on the FICO Score 8 model. Seeing your FICO score might give you a more accurate indication of what lenders see. But there are dozens of FICO scoring versions, so unless you are applying for credit with a lender that uses FICO Score 8, it’s still an approximation. The Experian mobile app also offers one of the easier ways to check your Chase 5/24 status.
Almost none of the website that offer a truly free credit report and score will show you your Experian report. So, if you want to see your Experian report, you’re going to have to get it directly. The constant upsell attempts are annoying, but you can use the service completely for free.
AnnualCreditReport.com and others
No article about getting your credit report for free would be complete without at least a passing mention of AnnualCreditReport.com. This site was set up by federal law to provide access to your credit report once a year for free. The site links you to all three credit bureaus where you can order your credit report. I don’t generally recommend this route because the other services offer a much better experience. And most of the credit bureaus try to upsell you into paid services once you are on their site.
Finally, if you are denied for a credit card or other credit product, you have the right to request a copy of the credit report that was used in making that decision. Instructions for ordering a credit report in this case will be included with the denial letter you receive.
You do not have to pay to check your credit report or see your credit score. There are several free services that can give you access to your credit report and score for free. CreditWise, Credit Karma or Experian’s website are three of the best. And all three are available for free. Using a combination of these sites, you can monitor all three of your credit reports easily without paying a dime.
Frequently asked questions
No, CreditWise from Capital One is available to everyone, regardless of whether you have a banking relationship with Capital One.
You can see your Experian and TransUnion credit reports with Credit Karma. You’ll also get a VantageScore from each credit report.
No. Experian offers premium services like credit monitoring and reports from all three bureaus for a fee, but you don’t need to pay to get your Experian credit report.
No. When you check your credit report through a service like CreditWise or Credit Karma, it won’t impact your score. Informational inquiries are soft inquiries, meaning that they don’t show up when a bank pulls your credit report.