Accessing your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus is a reasonably simple process when you utilize the Annual Credit Report centralized website. In addition, each of the credit reporting agencies provides access more than once per year through different methods, all at no cost to you. In recent years, several alternatives have been established to provide you even more access to your financial profile for free, including Credit Karma, Credit.com, and Credit Sesame.
Founded in 2007, Credit Karma is one of the first organizations to offer access to free credit reports for all consumers without the need to provide credit card information to sign up. Credit Karma provides users with updated credit reports and VantageScore credits scores each week, directly from TransUnion and Equifax. Experian credit reports are not currently available through Credit Karma’s platform. The signup process requires you to input your name, date of birth, social security number, and address to verify your identity, and you must provide an e-mail address and set a password for your account.
Credit Karma is able to offer free access to your credit report and score thanks to paid offers from potential lenders, like credit card issuers, auto lenders, and mortgage companies. It is important to note that while Credit Karma can be a valuable tool in assessing your overall credit profile, it is necessary to also access your Experian credit report periodically in case information reported to the other two agencies is different than what is included in your Experian credit report.
Another option for receiving free access to your credit profile information is Credit.com. Through the online platform, users sign up for a free account that provides access to a credit report card that details information on the five key areas listed on you credit report, including:
Similar to Credit Karma, Credit.com does not require a credit card to sign up, and the unique credit report card information is updated every two weeks. Data used to compile your credit report card is taken from your Experian credit report. Users should understand that the credit report card offered by Credit.com should not be used as an alternative to credit reports furnished by the three major credit reporting agencies but instead can be a tool to supplement information about your overall financial health. Credit.com offers both an Experian National Equivalency and VantageScore credit score.
Another way to access your credit report and score information without having to pay for a monthly subscription or an upfront fee is through Credit Sesame. As an online platform, Credit Sesame offers users clear, simple information regarding their credit history by way of a credit report card. Within the Credit Sesame credit report card summary, you can view how well you fare in terms of payment history, use of credit, the age of credit, variety of accounts, and past credit inquiries. Signup does not require a credit card, and your credit report card is updated on a monthly basis. Data used to compile your free Credit Sesame credit report card is pulled from TransUnion, and so it necessary to check credit reports from the other two agencies periodically to ensure accuracy across the board. Credit Sesame offers a summary of your TransUnion credit report and VantageScore for free, but also provides all 3 credit bureau reports and scores, plus identity theft protection and credit monitoring for only $15.95/mo. Which is the best deal we’ve seen.
Free credit report platforms are beneficial in the process of staying ahead of identity theft, fraud, and a variety of credit issues that could make it difficult to get credit in the future. However, none of the sites listed above should be used as a complete alternative to reviewing your actual credit reports and scores from the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Moreover, each of the credit scores provided by these free services are based on your VantageScore, not your FICO score. While the VantageScore is gaining in popularity, and is a good gauge of a person’s credit-worthiness, it’s not your FICO score which is still used by the majority of lenders. Use Credit Karma, Credit.com, or Credit Sesame as supplements to your annual credit report, or as a method to monitor activity on your credit report on a consistent basis to keep your financial well-being in check.
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